UK: Shielding the armed forces from prosecution: Bill passes through House of Commons


The Overseas Operations Bill has passed through the House of Commons with a majority of 85 votes. Amongst other things, the Bill would make it extremely difficult to prosecute soldiers or the armed forces for human rights abuses or criminal acts conducted during military operations. UN experts recently condemned the Bill for providing "advance immunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity."

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Labour votes against as Commons passes overseas operations bill (LabourList, link)

"Labour has voted against the controversial overseas operations bill as MPs in the Commons passed the legislation by a majority of 85, with 345 voting in favour of the bill and 260 against."

What's in the Bill? See: Has anything changed in the Overseas Operations Bill?: Committee Stage report (House of Commons Library, link):

"The Public Bill Committee for the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill concluded on 22 October 2020. Despite a significant number of tabled amendments to Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill, no changes were made. The Bill is not without controversy and MPs are expected to return to some of its more contentious provisions when it comes back to the Floor of the House. Report Stage is scheduled for 3 November 2020."

An opinion piece by a former soldier argues that it is those serving in the military who may be worst affected by the new provisions, as they bring the majority of legal claims against the armed forces.

See: The Tory war crimes immunity bill is betrayal of the troops by their officers (The Canary, link)

And: UK Parliament must not introduce impunity for war crimes, say UN experts (5 October 2020)

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