Creating new perspectives since 2009

Letter to the Prime Minister signed by MPs, peers and lawyers opposing changes on Universal Jurisdiction

January 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm

A Letter to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown

Dear Prime Minister,
We are shocked at suggestions by the Foreign & 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 (Article 146) 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.  Nor should the government succumb to pressure from any foreign power to alter this crucial aspect of the judicial process.
We therefore 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.

Yours sincerely,

Sir Geoffrey Bindman, Chair of British Institute for Human Rights, and Founder, Bindmans Solicitors
Michael Mansfield QC
Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK
Miriam Margolyes
Mohammed Abdul-Bari, Secretary-General, Muslim Council of Britain
Katy Clark MP
Frank Cook MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Paul Flynn MP
Neil Gerrard MP
John Hemming MP
Paul Holmes MP
Kelvin Hopkins MP
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 Steele
Derek Wyatt MP

Tayab Ali, Partner, Irvine Thanvi Natas Solicitors
Daniel Carey, Public Interest Lawyers
Jim Duffy, Public Interest Lawyers
Shauna Gillan, barrister, 1 Pump Court
Tessa Gregory, Public Interest Lawyers
Michelle Harris, barrister, 1 Pump Court
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
Sarah McSherry, Partner, Christian Khan solicitors
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
Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers
Paul Troop, barrister
Jackie Alsaid LLM
Anas Altikriti, British Muslim Initiative
Rachel Bowles
Prof Haim Bresheeth
Dale Egee
Sarah El-Guindi
Deborah Fink
David Halpin
Sharif Hamadeh
Beth Handly
Samira Hassassian
Professor Ted Honderich
Betty Hunter, General Secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Victor Kattan
Asad Khan
John McHugo, Chair, Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine
Professor Nur Masalha
Professor Steven Rose
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead
Andrew Sanger
Dr Aisha Sarwar
Sandra White MSP