The Guardian 14th December 2009. The court issued the warrant at the request of lawyers acting for some of the Palestinian victims of the fighting but the warrant was withdrawn when Livni cancelled her visit to the U.K. The warrant was an indication of the increasing use of "universal jurisidiction" in order to pursue those alleged to have committed certain crimes (e.g. war crimes etc). Israel claims that Operation Cast Lead was necessary for self-defence of the population against Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.
The appalling conflict in former Yugoslavia became the course of a further arrest warrant issued against Dr Ejup Ganic a former President of Bosnia Herzegovina - see The Independent 20th March. Ganic was arrested at London (Heathrow) Airport and held in custody for 10 days before being granted bail.
Ministry of Justice. Government argues that the "best" solution in relation to non-British nationals alleged to have committed a universal jurisdiction offence abroad is that only the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) would be able to apply for a warrant. The right of a private individual to apply for a warrant in respect of a universal jurisdiction offence would be restricted to cases committed in the U.K. or if the suspect was a British national or a member of the U.K. Armed Forces.
The CPS operates under the "superintendence" of the Attorney-General but the head of the CPS is the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Nevertheless, the proposal that only the CPS could apply for a warrant in a case such as Tzipi Livni seems somewhat more acceptable than an earlier proposal that a warrant could only be issued with the Attorney-General's specific consent.
Australia and New Zealand permit individuals to apply for warrants though any subsequent prosecution requires the consent of the relevant Attorney-General. In Canada, the Attorney-General would be given notice of any application for a warrant and would be able to make representations to the court and also any prosecution may only take place with the Attorney-General's consent.
Joshua Rozenberg, writing in the Law Society Gazette, has summarised the current situation and he argues that changing the law in the way suggested by the Ministry of Justice would be sensible. The proposed change runs the risk that the U.K. will be seen as becoming less committed to universal jurisdiction. Also, the UK government appears to be acting so as to avoid embarrassing rebukes from States with which the UK has friendly relations - see Telegraph 15th December 2009.
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