Quakers improve new law
Quakers and other campaigners have secured a key change to the Overseas Operations Bill.
Quakers in Britain and Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture (Q-CAT) have consistently called on the government to re-think the proposals in the bill. They have worked with organisations such as Amnesty International UK, Freedom From Torture, Liberty, Reprieve, and Rights and Security International to oppose it. Quakers and many other people wrote to their MPs to raise their concerns.
Quakers will continue to work for a peaceful world in which war and the crimes associated with it are abolished.- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk
One of Quakers' key concerns was that the bill would introduce a 'presumption against prosecution' after five years for alleged crimes committed by armed forces personnel. The government was forced to bow to public pressure from Quakers and other campaigners on this aspect of the bill.
Rather than face a defeat in parliament, the government introduced an amendment to the bill that excluded torture, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity from the presumption against prosecution. The amendment was approved by both houses of parliament this week.
This means that armed forces personnel can still be prosecuted in the UK for war crimes and crimes against humanity, even if the allegations emerge or the investigation concludes more than five years after the events took place.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: “I'm pleased that Quakers have worked with other campaigners to secure this important change to the new law. Preventing war crimes from being prosecuted should never have been an option. Many other parts of the new law remain unjust and ineffective. Quakers will continue to work for a peaceful world in which war and the crimes associated with it are abolished."