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We must not renege on war crime laws

The Guardian

16 January 2010

We are shocked at suggestions by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Ivan Lewis and foreign secretary David Miliband that Britain may consider changing its laws to avoid any future attempts to prosecute suspected war criminals, Israeli or otherwise. The UK must not renege on its international treaty obligations, particularly those under the fourth Geneva convention to seek out and prosecute persons suspected of war crimes wherever and whoever they are, whatever their status, rank or influence, against whom good prima facie evidence has been laid. We reject any attempt to undermine the judiciary’s independence and integrity. A judge who finds sufficient evidence of a war crime must have power to order the arrest of a suspect, subject to the usual rights to bail and appeal.

The power to arrest individuals reasonably suspected of war crimes anywhere in the world should they set foot on UK soil is an efficient and necessary resource in the struggle against war crimes, and must not be interfered with (Report, 6 January). Nor should the government succumb to pressure from any foreign power to alter this crucial aspect of the judicial process. We urge the government to state clearly that it will not alter the law on universal jurisdiction and will continue to allow victims of war crimes to seek justice in British courts.

John Austin MP

Katy Clark MP

Frank Cook MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Ann Cryer MP

Paul Flynn MP

Neil Gerrard MP

John Hemming MP

Paul Holmes MP

Kelvin HopkinsMP

Brian Iddon MP

Lynne Jones MP

Tom Levitt MP

Martin Linton MP

Bob Marshall-Andrews MP

Gordon Prentice MP

Linda Riordan MP

Terry Rooney MP

Baroness Jenny Tonge

Baroness Lindsay Northover

Bob Russell MP

Clare Short MP

Phyllis Starkey MP

Sir David Steel

Sandra White MSP

Derek Wyatt MP

Tayab Ali, Partner, Irvine Thanvi Natas Solicitors

Sir Geoffrey Bindman

Richard Burgon, solicitor

Daniel Carey, Public Interest Lawyers

Ian Cross, solicitor

Jim Duffy, Public Interest Lawyers

Shauna Gillan, barrister, 1 Pump Court

Andrew Gray, solicitor

Tessa Gregory, Public Interest Lawyers

Beth Handly, Partner, Hickman and Rose solicitors

Michael Hagan, solicitor

Michelle Harris, barrister, 1 Pump Court

Susan Harris, solicitor

Jane Hickman, Partner, Hickman and Rose solicitors

Sam Jacobs, Public Interest Lawyers

Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, barrister

Paul Kaufman, solicitor

Aonghus Kelly, Public Interest Lawyers

Daniel Machover, Chair of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

Michael Mansfield QC

Anna Mazzola, Partner, Hickman and Rose solicitors

Sarah McSherry, Partner, Christian Khan solicitors

Clare Mellor, solicitor

Karen Mitchell, solicitor

Simon Natas, Partner, Irvine Thanvi Natas solicitors

Sophie Naftalin, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Human Rights Legal Aid Fund

Henrietta Phillips, solicitor

William Seymour, solicitor

Navya Shekhar, solicitor

Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers

David Thompson, solicitor

Paul Troop, barrister

Mohammed Abdul-Bari, Secretary-General, Muslim Council of Britain

Anas Altikriti, British Muslim Initiative

Lindsey German, Stop the War Campaign

John Hilary, Director, War on Want

Kate Hudson, Chair, CND

Betty Hunter, General Secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Dan Judelson, Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Hugh Lanning, PCS Deputy General Secretary

John McHugo, Chair, Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine

Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary, BECTU

Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary, UNITE.

Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK

Jackie Alsaid LLM

Rachel Bowles

Prof Haim Bresheeth

Dale Egee

Sarah El-Guindi

Deborah Fink

David Halpin

Sharif Hamadeh

Samira Hassassian

Professor Ted Honderich

Victor Kattan

Asad Khan

Miriam Margolyes

Professor Nur Masalha

Professor Steven Rose

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead

Andrew Sanger

Dr Aisha Sarwar

Tareq Shrouru

Tony Woodley, UNITE Joint General Secretary