vrijdag 16 september 2011

Israeli politicians can visit Britain again, citizens can no longer have them arrested for war crimes

Barak



A British law limiting citizens' rights to seek the arrest of foreign politicians for alleged war crimes took effect on Thursday, removing a thorn in British-Israeli relations. 
Under the old law, private individuals could start criminal prosecutions, including for international war crimes, by applying to a magistrate for an arrest warrant.The new law requires the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued in "universal jurisdiction" cases, where a case involves alleged crimes committed outside Britain.

The change was made after Israel demanded Britain to do so in late 2009, after reports that former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would have risked arrest on war crimes charges over the 2008-9 Gaza offensive, had she not canceled a visit to London. Others that narrowly escaped arrest or had to cancel visits were minister of Defense Ehud Barak, vice-prime-minister and former chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon and several high ranking officers.
Ya'alon
"These new changes to existing law will ensure the balance is struck between ensuring those who are accused of such heinous crimes do not escape justice and that universal jurisdiction cases are only proceeded with on the basis of solid evidence that is likely to lead to a successful prosecution," Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said in a statement. Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the change last year, accusing the government of handing war criminals "a free ticket to escape the law".
Livni
Last year, Israel said it had stopped sending delegations to Britain for routine strategic talks out of fear pro-Palestinian activists would seek their arrest for alleged war crimes. Israel's Foreign Ministry has said that the legal jeopardy faced by Israeli politicians and military officers could damage Britain's efforts to play a role in Middle East peacemaking.

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