Justice Committee

Chair’s press release
No. 18 of Session 2009-10                                   19 March 2010

Informal reference of matter to the Committee: arrest warrants - universal jurisdiction

On 4 March the Justice Secretary made a Written Ministerial Statement setting out the Government’s concerns over the potential issuing of arrest warrants in respect of foreign visitors alleged to have committed offences which have “universal jurisdiction” (i.e. war crimes). Mr Straw asked the Justice Committee to examine the issue, and the government’s proposal to restrict the right to prosecute universal jurisdiction offences-alleged to have been committed outside the UK by a person who is not a British national or subject to Service law-to the Crown Prosecution Service.

We regard this as an important matter which deserves attention. However, given the proposed timetable for consultation, which ends on 6 April, the Committee is unable to undertake an appropriate process. We therefore encourage potential witnesses to make their representations direct to the Ministry of Justice by 6 April. The Committee has asked the Department to share submissions received with the Committee (alternatively, you may wish to submit a copy direct to us). The Government does not propose to legislate until after the general election and so we commend this topic to our successor in the new Parliament for early attention.

The letter from the Secretary of State, the Written Ministerial Statement, the explanatory memorandum and the draft clauses, are all available here.

1. Committee membership is as follows: Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP (Chair),  Rosie Cooper MP, 
Mr David Heath MP, Rt Hon Douglas Hogg MP, Siân James MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Robert Neill MP, Dr Nick Palmer MP, Linda Riordan MP, Mr Andrew Turner MP, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP and Dr Alan Whitehead MP

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