06 January 2010

Israelis Guilty of War Crimes?

It appears that the UK gov thinks that some Israelis are guilty of War Crimes and will not be able to acquit themselves of these charges in court. Rather than giving the opportunity for the Israelis to take on all comers and clear their names, the Guardian explains, "British government will fight legal attempts to indict Israeli leaders in UK".

So frightened are the UK gov that one of the Israelis will be found guilty of War Crimes that,

"The government is determined to protect high-ranking Israeli officials from arrest in the UK, the attorney general said, as it emerged that a further visit by the Israeli military had been cancelled."

It isn't clear exaclty how this will be done. It is thought that a safe haven for some accused war criminals will be created in the UK. This will be done by stripping power from those who want to hunt down war criminals in the UK by stopping universal jurisdiction - "the principle in international law whereby states claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting country" in the UK.

Or if not stopping this doctrine completely, preventing all and sundry; in other words, the victims, from using it.

Whatever happened to ... if you've got nothing to hide?

Another report from the Times explains,

"The power for a private individual to seek an arrest warrant from a British court for a foreign national they wish to prosecute is an unusual but not unique quirk of English law. The ability, which derives from the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, is also available in varying forms in the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic and New Zealand.


The process requires the individual to provide a specialist district judge with admissible evidence that a crime has been committed by the suspect. Despite suggestions that warrants have been granted solely on the basis of newspaper articles about the accused, lawyers insist that the evidential burden remains high. Admissible evidence typically means presenting a witness of the alleged crimes who is willing and able to be cross-examined at trial.


Change has been mooted before but lawyers say the most likely option is that the Attorney-General will be given a veto on the arrests of certain categories of individuals.

Obviously the veto will be exercised along the lines of, if they have committed War Crimes and we like them the application will be subject to veto; if they have committed War Crimes and we don't like them - no veto.

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