Wednesday, October 12, 2011

UK: Changing law for Israel war criminals proved unnecessary - former British MP

israel, war crimes, starkeySource: IRNA

London, Oct 11, IRNA – Granting temporary immunity to former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni during a visit to Britain proves it was unnecessary to weaken the country's universal jurisdiction law, according to a former MP.

“It was a change initiated at the behest of the Israeli government, and it has made Britain safer for those accused of war crimes whether, say, from Israel, Sri Lanka or Burma,” said Phyllis Starkey.

“In changing the law the government argued that, if private citizens could apply for arrest warrants, this might stop ministerial discussions with Israeli politicians,” Starkey said.
“But such discussions could always have been protected, as they were this week when Ms Livni was declared to have 'special mission' immunity. This shows the change of the law was unnecessary,” she said.

In a letter to the Guardian Tuesday, the former Labour MP warned that the change in the law has “only weakened Britain's ability to fulfil its obligations to ensure accountability for war crimes.”

Human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield has also criticised the decision to give immunity to Livni to prevent her being prosecuted for being a member of Israel's war cabinet during its Operation Cast Lead invasion of Gaza, when over 1,400 Palestinians were massacred.

“Britain's insulting new rules on arrest warrants will only encourage Israel's view of itself as above international law,” Mansfield said.