UK considers using universal jurisdiction as basis for prosecuting genocideMay 5, 2009 # 9:26 pm # Human Rights, International Law # No Comment
The AP is reporting:
Britain could become a venue for the prosecution of people accused of genocides across the globe, the country’s justice minister said on Tuesday.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said he was considering proposing changes to UK law that would allow courts in Britain to try cases where genocide had allegedly been committed elsewhere in the world.
Straw was speaking a month after Britain’s High Court refused to extradite four Rwandan men to their home country to face charges of participating in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that left 800,000 people dead.
Judges said the men, who denied the charges, faced the possibility of “a flagrant denial of justice” if they were returned to Rwanda to face trial and ordered that they be set free immediately.
Lawmaker Mary Creagh said on Tuesday that, “thanks to a loophole in UK law,” the four men cannot be tried for those crime in England either. She urged Straw to fix the situation so that cases like those could be tried in Britain.
Straw said MPs had “made a very powerful case for the inclusion of genocide as an extraterritorial offence within British law.”
He added: “I am currently giving it active consideration with my other relevant colleagues.”
Interesting. Under international law, any state can assert jurisdiction based on the universality principle for a limited set of crimes that are deemed universal in nature– such as genocide, war crimes, piracy, slave trade torture, high jacking and certain other offenses against aircraft, and perhaps several others. But not all states choose to assert such jurisdiction. It will be recalled that under existing U.S. law found in the Genocide Convention Implementation Act, the United States asserts jurisdiction only over US nationals or over persons who commit the offense in the United States.