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UK set to amend war crime arrest law

March 4, 2010 11:00

Brown says law abused by activists, UK envoy informs Livni of planned change.

Gordon Brown

gordon brown 311. (photo credit:AP)

The British government is set on Thursday to amend a current law in order to ensure Israeli officials visiting the UK are not arrested on charges of war crimes.

It follows a December 2009 arrest warrant issued for opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her involvement in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

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According to the Daily Telegraph, "the Crown Prosecution Service will take over responsibility for prosecuting war crimes and other violations of international law, ending the current system in which magistrates are obliged to consider a case for an arrest warrant presented by any individual."

Writing for the Telegraph, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would submit plans to put the CPS in sole charge of "judging the merits of any case brought under international law."

Brown said the right to prosecute international crimes in Britain had been abused by activists.

"The only question for me is whether our purpose is best served by a process where an arrest warrant for the gravest crimes can be issued on the slightest of evidence," he said. "As we have seen, there is now significant danger of such a provision being exploited by politically-motivated organizations or individuals."

Meanwhile, British Ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips telephoned Livni to inform her of the UK government’s intention to change the law.

According to a statement from Livni’s office, the opposition leader thanked Phillips and the British government for the planned move, calling it a step in the right direction.

“The British legal system has been abused by cynical elements in the United Kingdom which have done injustice to the whole country,” she said in the statement. “This is important news for every country in the Free World which is fighting terror, and it sends out a vital message that when something correct must be done, the entire political establishment gets on board, even if this means going through the absurd situation of an arrest warrant being issued for me.”
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  • Gaza
  • Operation Cast Lead
  • Tzipi Livni
  • gaza strip
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