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We’ll stop visitors being held for ‘war crime’ says George Osborne – Express

[MISC, Sunday, 28 November 2010 12:02 No Comment]

MEASURES to stop arrest warrants being issued against visiting foreign leaders and military commanders alleged to have committed war crimes are soon to be introduced by the Government, George Osborne said last night.

The Chancellor vowed to end the diplomatic embarrassment that has led to overseas dignitaries cancelling visits to Britain.

Last December, Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni scrapped a speech in London after Palestinian activists attempted to launch a prosecution.

And last month Israel’s deputy prime minister Dan Meridor also cancelled a visit to London following warnings that he could face an arrest warrant.

Ministers are concerned that political activists are exploiting laws designed to root out international war criminals for publicity stunts.

In a speech at the 250th anniversary dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London last night, Mr Osborne announced that action to block the prosecutions was imminent.

He said the Government was “determined to bring an end to the wholly unacceptable situation that sees many high-profile visitors from Israel threatened with arrest in Britain under the excuse of universal jurisdiction.” He added: “British laws should not be manipulated to threaten visitors to this country with arrest. While this travesty continues, we do not have freedom of speech.

“I know how important this issue is to your community. It is an important issue to me as well.

“I can confirm that we will introduce an amendment to fix this situation, with legislation included in the Police Bill, which will be published very shortly. We have waited long enough, we have talked long enough, it is time to act. And act we will.” The previous Labour Government had been committed to changing the law but failed to act before the General Election.

Mr Osborne also used his speech to the Board of Deputies to praise the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to charitable work in the Jewish community in Britain.

“I would like to pay tribute to your entrepreneurial achievements and thank you for making such a significant contribution to the British economy over the past 250 years, and thank you for the contribution you make today.”

He added: “We could learn a thing or two about big societies from the Jewish community. You have an enviable tradition of charitable endeavour and voluntary work.”

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