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Universal Jurisdiction Offences (Prosecution)

Volume 514: debated on Tuesday 20 July 2010

13. Whether he plans to bring forward proposals to change the law so that only the Crown Prosecution Service will be able to initiate prosecutions for universal jurisdiction offences. (9425)

The Government consider it unsatisfactory that an arrest warrant for such offences can be issued on the application of a private prosecutor on the basis of evidence that would be insufficient to sustain a prosecution. We are urgently considering how to proceed and expect to make an announcement shortly.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that Britain is unable to play a leading role in the diplomatic world if foreign politicians cannot visit this country without fear of arrest?

Of course we must enforce properly in respect of war crimes and other matters of universal jurisdiction where proper cases arise, but I agree with my hon. Friend that it is not in any sense in this country’s interests that people can be arrested upon arrival on a level of evidence that would not remotely sustain a prosecution, which is why we intend to address this matter and to make an announcement in the very near future.