QUEEN'S SPEECH: TIME NEEDED FOR WORLD COURT AND ARMS CONTROLS BILLS

Long-awaited legislation to control the Arms, also announced today in the form of a promised draft bill, while also welcome, is almost certain to fail to reach the statute books during the current parliament. This would constitute a considerable failure from a government committed to new Arms controls.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'Toughening up the Arms regulations and speedy ratification of the International Criminal Court are two of the most important parliamentary matters imaginable.

'It is essential that the Government grants sufficient parliamentary time to legislation that could raise the UK's standing in the world, firmly linking it to a human rights agenda.'

With both pieces of legislation, however, Amnesty International warned that the devil would be in the detail. It reiterated its concerns that with the International Criminal Court legislation, there should be:

provision for UK jurisdiction over ICC crimes regardless of where or by whom they were committed; no immunity based on official capacity; a clear need for the Government and UK authorities to extend the fullest possible co-operation to the ICC.

With arms control legislation, there should be:

prior scrutiny of all individual arms deals before equipment is shipped; measures specifically addressing overseas licensed production deals; rigorous end-use monitoring procedures.

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