Green party

UK must not protect war criminals

In international law, war criminals can be arrested in any country. But under current proposals from the Conservative-Lib Dem government, ministers might gain a political power to veto their arrest in the UK. Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP accordingly signed the following letter to The Guardian, along with many other politicians and others, published today.

We are joining the chorus of voices against government proposals (contained in the police reform and social responsibility bill) to give the director of public prosecutions a power of veto over arrest warrants for war crimes suspects who are visiting the UK. These warrants are issued very rarely by extremely senior district judges in Westminster, and only in response to submissions from victims accompanied by substantial evidence against the suspect. Giving a power of veto to the DPP would risk: political interference by ministers in the arrest of war crimes suspects; delaying proceedings, allowing suspects to escape justice; and would constitute a gross interference with the rights of the victim and the responsibilities of the judiciary.

Ministers and diplomats are already protected by immunity when carrying out their public duties, but this change in the law would risk creating a culture of impunity in the minds of those politicians and military leaders who already treat international law with cavalier disregard. We call on parliamentarians in both houses and of all parties to support international law and reject these proposals.