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UK: Overseas Operations Bill 'bad law and a worse example'

Ahead of parliamentary committee sessions this week on the Government’s highly controversial Overseas Operations Bill Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

“The Government’s Overseas Operations Bill will do irreparable damage to the reputation of the armed forces of this country, undermines basic principles of access to justice and sends a bad message internationally.

“In placing the actions of soldiers above the law, the Government is implying our armed forces need impunity for allegations of torture and war crimes and that we think it’s OK to grant them that.

“Such a move sends conflicting messages internationally. How on earth can we call on countries like Sri Lanka to implement justice for war crimes from 2009 when we have instituted a defacto statute of limitations ourselves?

“This Bill makes for bad law, and a worse example, it should be strongly opposed.”

The Overseas Operations Bill seeks to restrict prosecutions against British soldiers for offences committed overseas by introducing a “statutory presumption against prosecution” after five years to apply to all military personnel, including for torture and war crimes. It will also introduce a six year time limit for civil claims against the MoD. The Bill has come in for substantial criticism.

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