A leading campaigns organization in the UK has issued an urgent call to British parliamentarians to protect the principle of universal jurisdiction now under threat by a proposed government bill. Clause 152 of the Police Reform Bill, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign argues, 'will restrict the right to justice when seeking a privately prosecuted arrest for war crimes.' The proposed government change to the law was initiated in response to sustained pressure exerted upon the ruling coalition by the Israeli government and its UK lobby, after a warrant was issued for the arrest of former Israeli foreign minister, Tsipi Livni, for her role in the war on Gaza in 2008-09 following which the Goldstone Report concluded that war crimes and possible crimes against humanity were committed.
Universal Jurisdiction is a principle in international law that allows national courts of any state to try people accused of crimes under international law, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, extrajudicial executions and "disappearances", regardless of the nationality of the alleged perpetrators or victims and regardless of where the crimes were committed.
The British government's decision to change the law has provoked widespread outrage within the legal establishment and among politicians and human rights organizations.
Download a copy of the PSC brief here.