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Arrest Warrants (War Crimes)

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 5 July 2011

6. Whether the Government plan to make additional resources available to the Director of Public Prosecutions to enable him to discharge the new responsibilities contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill to consider arrest warrants in war crimes cases. (63523)

The Crown Prosecution Service currently anticipates that any additional responsibilities will be absorbed within current resources.

The Solicitor-General will have read the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on this issue, which finds that the Government have not made their case and that they should think again. I find it particularly ironic that we are prepared to change the law to protect one Israeli opposition leader when another opposition leader, the Palestinian Sheikh Salah, comes here and is put straight in jail. Where is the justice in that?

I appreciate the right hon. Lady’s interest in this aspect of public policy, and I also appreciate that she has firm opinions on the matter. She is fully entitled to those opinions. In short, the law was changed not in order to solve the problems of one individual but to deal with a public policy problem. She knows that really.

On 11 January, in this House, a Justice Minister assured me that allegations under universal jurisdiction offences would be accorded the highest priority. Does the Solicitor-General accept the need for an out-of-hours response so that we can be confident that those suspected of such serious crimes will not evade arrest?

The criminal justice system, as the hon. Gentleman knows, never rests. If someone is arrested or brought into custody, he will have available to him, or should have, not only the benefit of the attention of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service but also of his own defence lawyers.