British soldiers suspected of committing crimes against humanity, genocide, torture and war crimes will not be afforded guarantees against prosecution, the Conservative government conceded, in a major reversal of the provisions of the draft law on foreign operations.
Number 10 tried to curtail prosecution for torture and war crimes allegedly committed by British soldiers serving overseas. However, last week an amendment in the House of Lords rejected the government’s efforts to protect British soldiers, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, from what it calls the “vexatious” label claims. “.
EU Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic has also joined in and pleaded for MEPs not to allow troops to be protected from prosecution for these offenses. “UK lawmakers in the House of Commons should stand up for human rights and ensure that the provisions of the Overseas Operations Bill fully respect the UK’s obligations to fight impunity for torture and protect the rights of victims under the European Convention on Human Rights, âMijatovic said. reported say.
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As a potential rebellion brews as the bill returns to the House of Commons today, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace agreed to amend the bill to make it clear that there would be no limit time for prosecution for these crimes.
“While we maintain that nothing in this bill prevents those accused of breaking the law from being prosecuted, we have listened to the concerns and in order to send a powerful message to the international community, amendments will be made. made to the overseas operations bill, “a ministry spokesperson said. “The offenses excluded in the first part of the bill will be broadened to include torture, genocide and crimes against humanity.”
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Former NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who led the opposition against the unamended bill, welcomed the decision. âPending the details, it is certainly heartening that the government seems to have finally listened to the chorus of concerns about the impact on the UK’s international reputation if it does not eliminate torture, genocide and crimes against the United Kingdom. “Humanity of the presumption against prosecution in the overseas operations bill,” said Robertson.
Robertson argued that if the government got what it wanted, it would have abandoned the British ‘lead by example’ approach and set a terrible precedent that could be seized by many of the world’s worst regimes.