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Thursday, 31 March 2011

MPs vote to block the arrest of war crime suspects

Yesterday, the Commons passed clause 152 which will enable the government to block arrests of war crime suspects. This will require the permission of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) before a court can consider issuing an arrest warrant for a war crimes suspect, rather than allowing a senior District Judge to issue an arrest warrant for a suspect if presented with sufficient evidence. This will effectively require the DPP, following advice from the Attorney General, to block arrests of war crime suspects from ‘friendly countries' thus removing the impartial and transparent application of the law.

Rt Hon Ann Clwyd tabled an amendment to remove the clause which was defeated, because all three major parties whipped to support the clause. However, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party supported the amendment, along with 32 Labour MPs who defied their Party's orders. No Conservatives or Liberal Democrats voted to block the clause. This was particularly disappointing as the majority of Liberal Democrats had previously pledged to oppose any legislation to restrict universal jurisdiction. Of the three Brent MPs only Glenda Jackson voted for the amendment. Sarah Teather failed to carry out her General Election commitment to vote against any watering down of the law.

We offer real thanks to those who stood up for international law and justice: Graham Allen, Adrian Bailey, Clive Betts, Ronnie Campbell, Martin Caton, Rt Hon Ann Clwyd - who moved the amendment, Jeremy Corbyn, Jon Cruddas, Simon Danczuk, Jim Dobbin, Mark Durkan, Jonathan Edwards, Rt Hon Frank Field, Mary Glindon, Mark Hendrick, Kate Hoey, Jim Hood, Kelvin Hopkins, Glenda Jackson, Rt Hon Sir Gerald Kaufman, Rt Hon David Lammy, Rt Hon Elfyn Llwyd, Andy Love, Caroline Lucas, John McDonnell, George Mudie, Sandra Osborne, Albert Owen, Yasmin Quereshi, Dennis Skinner, Rt Hon Andrew Smith, Nick Smith, David Winnick, Mike Wood & Hywel Williams

 The legislation will now go to the Lords.

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