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Friday, 15 July 2011

Lib Dem leadership on universal jurisdiction reform

I am pleased to see the latest Parliamentary progress of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, which includes a reform of how arrest warrants are issued for universal jurisdiction offences such as war crimes or torture. Two Liberal Democrat ministers, Lord McNally and Lord (Jim) Wallace, have led this reform's progress through the House of Lords. A rebel amendment from three Lib Dem backbenchers (which would have watered down the proposed reform) was withdrawn without a vote; Lord Palmer and Lord Carlile spoke from the Lib Dem benches against this rebel amendment. The Coalition Government's reform to this law follows Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's clear pledge that this would be done. This will mean that suspected war criminals can and will still be prosecuted in the UK, while ending the possibility, as Lord McNally puts it, of people being detained "on very spurious grounds" at the behest of people for whom "the gain...is not in the trial or the verdict but in the publicity gained by getting the individual into the situation in the first place."

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