Hague: We will change universal jurisdiction

By Jessica Elgot, May 28, 2010
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William Hague: We will fix a timetable to change universal jurisdiction

William Hague: We will fix a timetable to change universal jurisdiction

Foreign Secretary William Hague says he is committed to changing the law on universal jurisdiction, and that the government was planning a timetable to be announced soon.

Mr Hague had pledged during the election campaign that his party would change the law, which allows arrest warrants to be granted against war criminals, even if they are not British.

The law has meant an arrest warrant was briefly issued against Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni when she came to speak at a JNF conference in London last December.

At a Foreign Office briefing, Mr Hague said: “We'll make a decision about this fairly soon. I can't say exactly when but you can be assured that we're working on it. We find it completely unacceptable that someone such as Mrs Livni feels she cannot visit the United Kingdom.

“This is a country that wants to play a strong role in the Middle East peace process, as we have just been discussing, and for that Israeli leaders and others have to be able to visit the United Kingdom."

“So be in no doubt that we will take action on this, but as part of a coalition, we must discuss with our colleagues how to best to do it.”

Mr Hague said that the Liberal Democrats, who were believed to be against changes in the universal jurisdiction law, were open to change.

He said: “We start from the same position that the current situation is unsatisfactory. We cannot have a position where Israeli politicians, or indeed this will apply to many other nations as well, feel they cannot visit this country.

“So this has to be put right and that is well understood and agreed in the coalition government. So all we are talking about now is how we put this right. There are various options on the table.”

He also expressed the coalition’s commitment to playing a role in the Middle East peace process, and to a two-state solution.

He said: “There is unwavering support for a two-state solution that delivers a secure Israel alongside a sovereign Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem and a just settlement for refugees, and the determination to buttress the efforts of the United States and the proximity talks.”

Last updated: 5:10pm, May 28 2010