Kenneth Clarke must not bow to Israeli war criminals' pressure

Tony Gosling tony at
Mon Aug 9 01:40:40 BST 2010

The right to arrest war crime suspects

The Guardian, Thursday 29 July 2010

We are horrified at the proposals by justice secretary Kenneth Clarke 
to give the director of public prosecutions a veto over arrest 
warrants in private prosecutions for international crimes (Report, 22 
July). The justice secretary's statement appeared to question the 
ability of magistrates themselves to weed out flimsy cases. To imply 
that any previous arrest warrants were issued without judges being 
satisfied of the existence of serious evidence against the person 
concerned is an insult to the British legal system and the senior 
magistrates that preside over such cases. Involving the DPP risks 
adding a political dimension to a legal decision and introduces a 
source of delay when urgent action may be required to stop a suspect 
escaping justice.

Since we call on other countries to uphold human rights and 
international law, our legal system also has to abide by those 
principles, in particular bringing to justice those responsible for 
genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and 
hostage-taking. It's no secret that this move is the result of 
pressure from the Israeli government to try to ensure that 
ex-ministers and military staff will not have to face warrants for 
their arrest on entering this country.

Rather than bending to pressure to change the existing law, our 
government should be issuing a statement of intent that all those 
responsible for serious international crimes, whatever their 
nationality, will be brought to justice if and when the evidence 
supports criminal prosecution. The proposed changes will apply to 
everyone, making it more difficult to prosecute all suspects, whether 
from Israel or any other country involved in systematic human rights 
violations. Britain must not be seen as a safe haven for anyone 
suspected of committing such grave international crimes.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman

Daniel Machover

Louise Christian

Alexei Sayle

Miriam Margoyles

Keith Sonnet Deputy general secretary, Unison

Hugh Lanning Deputy general secretary, PCS

Sally Hunt General secretary, UCU

Kevin Courtney Deputy general Secretary, NUT

Andy Dark Assistant general secretar, FBU

Tony Woodley Joint general secretary, Unite

Simon Dubbins International director, Unite

Betty Hunter General secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Rev Canon Garth Hewitt

Benjamin Zephaniah

Lindsey German Chair, Stop the War

Daud Abdullah Director, Middle East Monitor

Chris Doyle Director Council for Arab-British Understanding

Mohammed Sawalha British Muslim Initiative

Farooq Murad Secretary general, Muslim Council of Britain

Diana Neslen Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Diane Abbott MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Emily Thornberry MP

Bruce Kent

Karma Nabulsi

Ahdaf Soueif

Caryl Churchill

John Austin

Eleanor Kilroy

Karen Mitchell

Victoria Brittain

Sarah McSherry

Katherine Craig

Ian McDonald

Penny Maddrell

Jackie Alsaid

Andrew Sanger

David Halpin

Bill Benfield

Yvonne Ridley

Andy Newman

Mohammed Asif

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