Occupation Map

Occupation Map

Friday, 17 December 2010

Government’s proposal could let war criminals ‘get away with murder’, Sir Gerald Kaufman says during debate on Bill

war criminals
In Parliament the Second Reading Commons’ debate was held for the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. This contains the proposal (clause 151) to give the Director of Public Prosecutions a veto on whether or not a court can consider issuing an arrest warrant for war crimes.
The Bill was introduced by Theresa May from the government, with Ed Balls and Vernon Coaker, the Home Office Shadow team, leading the opposition. Unfortunately, clause 151 was one of the few areas they offered Labour’s support for, although they promised to ‘probe’ these aspects. However, their support was not echoed by a single speaker on the Opposition backbenches. Sir Gerald Kaufman launched a stinging attack, stating that this change in the law ‘would never have been proposed if it were not for the case of Tzipi Livni, the war criminal daughter of a terrorist father’. He catalogued some of the crimes of the Israeli state against the Palestinians including the assault on Gaza; their attack on the flotilla; holding political prisoners; abuse of prisoners, including children and reminded the House that a change in the law will mean that one of the few sanctions open will be removed and “Israeli politicians will be literally allowed to get away with murder.”
Ann Clwyd pointed out how rarely arrest warrants were made, how difficult it was to obtain one and set out that “nothing needs fixing, as nothing has been broken.”
Tom Brake was the only Liberal Democrat to make a speech covering the issue, and unfortunately was broadly supportive of the Government measures, but did raise that “sufficient resources need to be made available to the DPP to ensure that arrest warrant requests are dealt with speedily, and are not used as a means of ensuring that appropriate action is not taken.”
The Coalition Government predictably won the vote on the Second reading, and the Bill will now be heard by a committee of MPs selected by the Whips. The Bill will be debated again at its Report and Third Reading, which will take place after mid-February.
It is still not too late to press your MP to defend universal jurisdiction, and oppose war criminals being able to ‘get away with murder’. Please arrange to meet them at their constituency surgery in January. PSC has prepared detailed briefings.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Remembering Israel’s war on Gaza: END THE SIEGE ON GAZA

 Vigil outside the Israeli Embassy in London 27 December 2010, 1-3pm to mark the second year of the start of Operation Cast Lead. 
Gaza vigilBetween 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, over 1400 Palestinians were killed by Israel in a brutal and illegal attack on the Gaza Strip, destroying lives and infrastructure. Two years on, Gaza’s infrastructure has still not been repaired due to Israel’s blockade. Families are still living in tents. UN schools are unable to rebuild as Israel blocks concrete and building supplies. Join us, and bring family and friends, to send a clear message – END THE SIEGE ON GAZA! FREE PALESTINE!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Teather's Response to PSC lobby

Members of Brent PSC in Brent Central and local Lib Dem councillor Ann Hunter met Sarah Teather MP on Wednesday 8 December to raise various issues related to the Palestinian issue. Ms. Teather, who previously as the MP for Brent East had visited Gaza twice, said the impressions made on her during those visits made it hard for her to change her views and feelings of support on this issue. The meeting was part of the PSC’s annual lobby of MPs; however, it was not possible for campaigners and Ms. Teather to meet on 24 November and hence the December meeting instead.

One of the key issues campaigners wished to raise was s. 151 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill which is to introduce an amendment to the laws on universal jurisdiction in the UK, adding a political element to what should be wholly a judicial matter. Campaigners from the PSC and other NGOs do not believe the law needs amending; however, due to a misunderstanding, it was not possible for Ms. Teather to give her opinion on this matter during the meeting. We hope she is able to do so before this bill has its second reading (debate and vote) in the House of Commons on Monday 13 December.

Other issues raised were Israeli settlements, the labelling of goods from settlements and the siege of Gaza. Ms.Teather promised to take up these issues and we look forward to her response on these issues. It is encouraging that Ms.Teather, also Minister for Children and Families, is supportive of this issue. Nonetheless, she spoke of “horse trading” or bargaining to get support on these issues among parliamentarians and the government; concessions have to be made on some issues in order to make gains on others. It must, however, be pointed out that human life and human rights are not bargaining chips and all of the issues raised are of equal importance and are non-negotiable, largely under international law as well.