Gordon Brown’s proposals to change the law in Britain to make it harder for private citizens to apply for arrest warrants against suspected war criminals has been condemned by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). If the British Prime Minister’s changes are pushed through, local magistrates will lose the power to issue such warrants. It was a magistrate in Westminster who issued an arrest warrant against Israel’s ex-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in December, causing her to cancel a visit to Britain. Under Brown’s proposals, it will be up to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if there is a better than reasonable chance of securing a conviction before any warrants is issued. In practice, this means that arrests are unlikely to happen. It is believed widely that Brown’s proposals have been made at the insistence of the government of Israel and the Israel lobby in Britain.
First Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, said that the British proposal violates international and humanitarian laws, stressing that Gordon Brown’s move lacks any legal, political, humanitarian or moral justification. The fact that this change in the application of the law of universal jurisdiction in Britain comes so soon after the Livni case will, believes Dr. Bahar, encourage the Israelis to continue with their crimes against the Palestinians knowing that they are unlikely to be brought to justice.
“If this change goes through and is ratified by the British parliament,” said Dr.Bahar, “the credibility of British justice – once world-renowned – will be severely dented. Protecting Zionist war criminals is no way to demonstrate British support for promoting democracy and human rights across the world.” This illustrates, added Dr. Bahar, a political decline and a decline in values, raising as it does the value of political interests over the pain and suffering of the Palestinians, hundreds of whom were killed by the Israelis in Gaza alone last year.
Dr. Bahar called on the British parliament to reject the amendments that Brown intends to push through and adhere to the principles of international and humanitarian laws. He called on British human rights organizations as well as Arab and Muslim communities in Britain to mobilise in opposition to the government’s plans. In the run-up to the General Election, he said, this is an important time to let politicians know what is thought about such changes to the law.
Source: Gaza (Palestine) – Quds Press
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