Universal Jurisdiction

Analysis: You've betrayed the Jewish community, Jack Straw

By Martin Bright, March 11, 2010

The time has now come to tell the full story of how the government betrayed the Jewish community over "universal jurisdiction". In more than a decade of covering UK politics, I have never known a story quite like this.

It is now three months since David Miliband and Gordon Brown pledged to change the law that allowed an arrest warrant to be issued for Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

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Ami Ayalon: no arrest in London

By Jessica Elgot, March 10, 2010

The former head of Israel’s secret service, Shin Bet, Ami Ayalon, has returned to Israel after speaking in London, without being arrested.

Israeli lawyers met Mr Ayalon at the airport when he landed in London in case he was arrested but the visit went without a hitch. Pro-Palestinian groups were expected to perhaps seek an arrest warrant for Mr Ayalon under universal jurisdiction.

Mr Ayalon, formerly a government minister and ex-head of the Israeli navy, spoke at the LSE on Monday evening as part of a public discussion entitled “The Goldstone Report and the Peace Process”.

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Straw: No arrest law change until after election

By Jessica Elgot, March 5, 2010

The Justice Secretary Jack Straw has postponed immediate legislation to stop Israeli ministers being threatened with “politically motivated” arrest warrants when they visit Britain, until after the general election.

The justice secretary’s remarks contravene the promise made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday.

Mr Brown proposed that the Crown Prosecution Service should take the responsibility for prosecuting for war crimes, after reading a leader comment in the JC showing him the strength of feeling over the issue within the Jewish community.

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Gordon Brown: CPS to control war crimes law

By Jessica Elgot, March 4, 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced an imminent change in universal jurisdiction law, as predicted exclusively by the JC last week.

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Reform Jews grill Chris Grayling on arrest law

By Marcus Dysch, February 25, 2010

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said this week that he was unsure whether it was necessary to change the law on universal jurisdiction.

He was speaking to two dozen members of the Reform community at the Sternberg Centre in Finchley, north west London, on Monday evening.

Audience members grilled him on how a prospective Tory administration would tackle the issue of universal jurisdiction.

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Brown: I'll change war crime arrest law

By Martin Bright, February 25, 2010

Gordon Brown has personally intervened to unblock the logjam over a change in the law that allows local magistrates to issue arrest warrants for visiting foreign politicians accused of war crimes.

The JC understands the Prime Minister is determined to press ahead with the law change before the election.

Last December, Foreign Secretary David Miliband promised to amend legislation after a warrant was issued for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni over her role in planning Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

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Tzipi Livni: I'm coming to Britain

By Stephen Pollard and Martin Bright, February 3, 2010

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni is planning to come to London to test the process for the issuing of arrest warrants for alleged war crimes.

Speaking exclusively to the JC, Ms Livni said: “I will do this not for me, not for provocation, but for the right of every Israeli to travel freely. I am not going to be restricted by extremists because I fought terror.”

The British system was, she said, “being abused by extremists for political reasons. Belgium and Spain have changed their laws, and the British know that they have to do so”.

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War crimes: Will the government ever act?

By Martin Bright and Stephen Pollard, January 28, 2010

Legislation to prevent magistrates issuing arrest warrants for high-profile foreign visitors accused of war crimes has been delayed because it is still awaiting a decision from Gordon Brown.

One senior government source close to the process told the JC this week: “There is no evidence that the Prime Minister is having second thoughts, but he needs to press the button.”

At the same time, Downing Street sources said that Number 10 was furious that the Justice Secretary Jack Straw is still dragging his feet over the issue.

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War crimes arrest law will change next week

By Martin Bright and Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

New legislation to stop magistrates granting arrest warrants for visiting politicians and military figures accused of war crimes will be announced next week, the JC can reveal.

The outcry from Israel over a warrant issued for opposition leader Tzipi Livni last month led the government to make a commitment to ensure prominent Israelis will in future be able to travel to the UK without fear of arrest.

Lawyers representing Palestinians in Gaza successfully applied for a warrant last month over Ms Livni’s involvement in authorising Operation Cast Lead.

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Jack Straw 'is blocking change in arrest law'

By Martin Bright, Joshua Rozenberg and Anshel Pfeffer, January 7, 2010

An announcement on reform of the law that allows magistrates to grant arrest warrants for visiting Israeli military figures and politicians is imminent and could come within weeks.

Senior figures in the Jewish community now believe that responsibility is likely to be passed to the Attorney General following intense UK government embarrassment over the arrest warrant that was granted for the former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

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