Announcement

Government proposes amendment to war crimes arrest law

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Private individuals would only be able to obtain arrest warrant with consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Government today informed Parliament of its plans to amend the law on universal jurisdiction so that private individuals would only be able to obtain an arrest warrant with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The UK is committed to upholding international justice and all of our international obligations and our core principle is clear: Those guilty of war crimes must be brought to justice. The principle of Universal Jurisdiction allows the UK to ensure that people who have committed some of the most heinous crimes - wherever in the world they took place - can be brought to justice in our courts. The changes proposed today are designed to correct an anomaly that allows people to be detained even where there is no realistic chance of prosecution. The Government wants to ensure that the UK’s systems cannot be mis-used or lead to unintended, but serious consequences for international relations.

British Ambassador to Israel Sir Tom Phillips explained today that “The right of any person to take the first step by applying for an arrest warrant would be unchanged, but the warrant would be issued only if the Director of Public Prosecutions was satisfied that enough evidence against the accused had been provided.

“The principle of Universal Jurisdiction allows the UK to ensure that people who have committed heinous crimes - wherever in the world they took place - can be brought to justice in our courts.

“However, there are many persons against whom allegations are made, but there is no hard evidence of wrongdoing. We need to be sure that action against any individual is justified - that the allegations are well-founded and backed by evidence that would be likely to result in a successful prosecution.”