Lords block attempt to stop war crimes prosecutions

The House of Lords has blocked government efforts to protect veterans of the armed forces and protect personnel from “annoying” prosecution for historical suspected war crimes.

Peers severely defeated the government by demanding that war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and torture be excluded from future legal protections for British forces fighting overseas.

The House of Lords, which was backed by 333 votes to 228 and a majority of 105 votes to ensure the most serious crimes are not covered by controversial laws protecting service personnel from annoying claims on the battlefield.

They also supported an amendment to the bill by 308 votes to 249, majority 59, to prevent military personnel from being subjected to delayed and repeated investigations into allegations arising from overseas operations.

The Bill on Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans), which has already cleared the Commons, aims to limit false and historical allegations arising from operations by introducing a legal presumption against law enforcement. This would make it exceptional for employees to be prosecuted five years or more after an incident.

Defense Secretary Baroness Goldie denied the requests, saying the bill, advocated by Minister of the Armed Forces Johnny Mercer, strikes a fair balance between victims’ rights and fair protection of service personnel.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said that nothing will stop the government from enacting laws to ensure that people who have served in the armed forces do not “endanger annoying or unfair law enforcement in historic cases where no new evidence has been presented.” “suffer. He had hired Mr. Mercer to curb the prosecution of veterans on historical charges.

Plymouth Moor View Conservative MP Mercer had previously beaten up “deeply insincere colleagues who repeat campaign lines that they know are not true” after those behind them raised concerns about the bill.

But Lady Goldie told the House of Lords that Ministers were not convinced of the need to introduce “artificial” restrictions on the investigative process. It warned that this would create a legal anomaly and was premature while a review of investigative and prosecution processes regarding overseas operations was ongoing.

It would also increase the risk of the International Criminal Court finding that the UK is unwilling or unable to properly investigate alleged crimes overseas, added Lady Goldie.

Downpatrick’s Baroness Ritchie later raised concerns that the bill would be in direct conflict with the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and would “undo” further reforms of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Lady Ritchie warned that this would set “dangerous precedent” if not questioned.

Liberal Democratic peer Lord Thomas von Gresford said: “The hole in this bill is that it does not directly address the scandal of delayed investigations and re-investigations of service staff.”

The proposed amendment to the legislation “seeks to fill this loophole” with a “workable and workable code in which the service police or other investigator is monitored and monitored”.

Labor Frontbencher Lord Tunnicliffe said the bill had “remained silent about the re-investigation cycle”.

He supported the amendment that would ensure that “there must be compelling evidence to justify a new investigation”.

Lord Tunnicliffe added: “It is an effective framework for investigation.

“Ministers have identified problems with annoying allegations and poor investigations and are taking an indirect approach and many colleagues do not understand why.”

In the reporting phase of the bill, Lord Boyce said: “The aim of this bill is to better inform our armed forces of legal proceedings when they are or have been operating overseas.

“The law’s significant emphasis on presumption by law enforcement in order to relieve the stress of legal proceedings implies that this solves the problem.

“However, it is the examination and follow-up process that has a debilitating effect and that tires people down.

“The indictment can even be a form of relief when it comes.

“I think it’s important to remember that even if the suspicion exists, the threat of prosecution will not be completely lifted after five years. This can still happen if the attorney general sees fit. “

The independent Crossbencher added, “It is the research process that needs to be addressed to ensure that it remains relevant, that a vigilant and prudential eye is kept on the process to ensure it does not drift and that there are timelines, with which the investigators work, and that follow-up examinations are only initiated after careful judicial control. “

However, the bill had been supported by former defense chiefs.

Concern has been expressed in the House of Lords that this is not directly about the “scandal” of the protracted investigative process that peers have heard “that is so weary of people”.

An amendment to the bill aimed at introducing protective measures for preliminary investigations was supported by former military chief Lord Boyce and former army chief Lord Dannatt.

In addition to introducing requirements for investigations, including timetables, a re-investigation would only be allowed if there was “new compelling evidence of information”.


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