Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sir Gerald Kaufman MP debates Universal Jurisdiction in Parliament - December 13, 2010

PRC: Universal Jurisdiction amendment promotes further crimes:
Source: Palestine Return Centre

"Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) expresses its concerns over the intended amendment on commons vote this Monday on Universal Jurisdiction.
PRC points out that if the Police Reform Bill is passed on Monday, will make it increasingly difficult to obtain an arrest warrant for anyone accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The new changes have been introduced due to political reasons and not moral and legal considerations. The intention to change laws for the arrest of war criminals so that the Director of Public Prosecutions, a political position, has a veto on whether an arrest warrant can be issued against a suspected war criminal would endanger arrests from going ahead as it would introduce delay and allow political interference.

Civic organisations across the UK are united in their protestations. We urge you to remember the history of Universal Jurisdiction and remind you that it is a totemic symbol of progress and justice for every human being. The very concept champions human rights over political interests. The success of universal human rights should not now be compromised and chipped away merely for the political interest of a single state.

The Palestinian Return Centre and other NGO's are calling for all MPs to vote against these proposed changes. The current law complies fully with the Geneva Convention and any regressive change voted for by British MPs will send the wrong message about Britain’s seriousness in upholding truth and justice.

In a letter to the British MPs, PRC wrote, “We remind all MPs that Britain has a duty to seek out and prosecute those responsible for war crimes. We are also reminding you of the concessions you are asked to make in this vote. Your vote on this issue is calling you to alter a legal position that is informed by our highest ideals. Universal laws are there to inform and steer our politics and every MP must think twice when reversing this relationship.”

PRC hopes that Britiain would adhere to its laws and regulations and make it difficult for those war criminals. PRC reckons, that allowing those war criminals to move freely from and to Israel, will only encourage Israeli apartheid practices against the Palestinians

Sir Gerald Kaufman MP debates Universal Jurisdiction in Parliament - December 13, 2010:

"readingpsc | December 14, 2010

Clip from the debate on the Police Reform And Social Responsibility Bill. Excerpt transcript here:

Veteran MP claims British Jews are "distancing" themselves from Israel
Source: Middle East Monitor

A veteran British MP has attacked the Westminster coalition government's proposed change to the universal jurisdiction laws. Sir Gerald Kaufman also claimed that British Jewry is waking up to the truth of Israel's human rights abuses.

During the second reading of the Police Bill on Monday 13 December 2010, Sir Gerald suggested that the proposed clause 151 has been "smuggled in to fulfil a Conservative election pledge" stipulating a change in the administration of universal jurisdiction in Britain. The Conservative Party placed a full-page advertisement in the Jewish Chronicle during the General Election campaign; a change in universal jurisdiction was one of a list of pledges made. He highlighted the case of the former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and the successful arrest warrant granted for her part in the "slaughter" that had taken place during Operation Cast Lead; the Labour Party veteran added that changes to the law make a mockery of the British legal system.

Sir Gerald was berated in the House of Commons by staunch supporters of Israel, including Matthew Offord. When it was suggested that Livni was not wanted in the country, the MP for Hendon in North London responded, "She is in my constituency". As Sir Gerald stressed Israel's war crimes and its breaches of various international laws, he faced even more vociferous criticism from pro-Israel MPs; the Deputy Speaker of the House had to intervene to maintain order.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow, accused Sir Gerald Kaufman of using the Bill reading for his own political agenda and suggested that his "hatred for Israel knows no bounds", but the MP for Manchester Gorton was unfazed and went on to describe his recent visit to Jerusalem. He saw at first-hand, he told the House, the on-going human rights and civil liberties abuses Israel carries out against the Palestinians on a daily basis which made it even more important for the UK to continue to uphold the law in all circumstances.

"For all those crimes and many more, the Israelis are answerable to no one," he said. "Now, one of the few sanctions on those crimes will be removed. As a result of the Bill, Israeli politicians will be literally allowed to get away with murder."

What is even more remarkable, Sir Gerald noted, is that British Jews themselves are distancing themselves from Israel; even "one of the most active and vocal supporters of Israel" has accused the Israeli government of turning Israel into an "apartheid state".

The Liberal Democrat leader and current Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP, had, said Sir Gerald, always "rose without fail to say how heinous and unacceptable it would be for the Labour government to change the law [on universal jurisdiction]… and how the Liberal Democrats would be totally opposed to any such change". However, after recent broken pledges "the hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats on universal jurisdiction is unlimited, as on so many matters. Week after week, their spokesman rose and opposed vehemently a change in the law for which he will vote tonight, just as Liberal Democrats voted last week [to increase university student fees] in blatant breach of their election pledges".

Never one to mince his words, Sir Gerald Kaufman held firm that this was not a time to "creep to my front benchers [the Labour Party leadership], but to speak on behalf of my constituents" and suggested that even if the government insists on this change in the law, "Tzipi Livni and her ilk will remain unwelcome in this country".

"I state a view that I have stated consistently in the House for very many years, and I shall continue to do so, because it is the Israelis who are in trouble, the Israelis who are turning Israel into a pariah state, and the Israelis who will be overcome by demographic changes they will be outnumbered by the Palestinians and this Government is an accomplice to what they are doing. God forgive them."

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