Wednesday, August 17, 2011

UK Arrest Warrants and the Law of Universal Jurisdiction

The procedure by which arrest warrants can be sought and issued without any prior knowledge or advice by a prosecutor is an unusual feature of the system in England and Wales. In addition, Spain, Belgium and Norway also seek to arrest Israelis on charges of alleged war crimes through “universal jurisdiction” laws. The principle of “universal jurisdiction” laws is that some alleged crimes are so grave that they can be tried anywhere, regardless of where the offences were committed. This law developed since the General Pinochet case in 1999.

In July 2010 the UK announced that it was planning a timetable to introduce legislation which would somewhat restrict the application of universal jurisdiction in the UK, because threats of arrests are stopping Israeli politicians from visiting the UK.

The proposed law, which is part of the new Police and Social Responsibility bill, does not restrict the scope of universal jurisdiction in the UK but will affect the possibility of private persons obtaining an arrest warrant in relation to universal jurisdiction crimes. In effect it would ensure that the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions was required before an arrest warrant could be issued. This is an attempt to prevent the courts being used for political purposes.

The bill was introduced in Parliament on 30 November 2010, is passing through Parliament at the moment. On 20 July 2011, there was the third reading of the bill in the House of Lords, where final amendments were made to it.

1 comment:

fernanreal@hotmail.com said...

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