Below you will find an exchange of letters sent to the British newspaper
The Guardian regarding the use of universal jurisdiction in the United Kingdom
to ensure accountability for war crimes

.

 

The first is the original of a letter written by PCHR and the UK law
firm Hickman and Rose. The version of the letter that was published by the
Guardian on 5 January 2010 was edited and somewhat shorter. An Israeli response
to the letter, published on 9 January 2010, makes allegations which PCHR and
Hickman Rose had already addressed in their original, unedited letter, but to
which we saw the need to respond again on 10 January 2010.

 

Raji Sourani

 

 

1. Original
letter sent to the Guardian by PCHR and Hickman and Rose

 

27th
December 2009

 

Dear
Sir,

 

On the first anniversary of Israel’s
large scale military operation in Gaza and amid renewed debate in the UK on
courts exercising universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, we learn
with some concern that Baroness Scotland is to address the Hebrew University on
5th January under the explosive rubric: “Lawfare – Time for Rules of
Engagement?”[1] We write
to urge that any characterisation she offers of universal jurisdiction cases,
in which we have long been engaged, is an accurate one.

 

Hickman and Rose (H&R) has asked
the UK police to investigate the cases of injured, tortured or bereaved
citizens from several countries who are denied remedies in their domestic
courts and seek the protection of international law.  In some of those
cases, applications for judicial arrest warrants have become necessary or might
be needed in future. The exercise of universal jurisdiction and the arrest
warrant procedure has become an increasingly important part of the protection
which international criminal law was designed to create.  It will have a
significant deterrent effect to future regimes which might otherwise resort to
mass murder, torture and war crimes.

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human
Rights (PCHR), a non-partisan NGO based in Gaza, and H&R work together on
cases that arise from events in Gaza, which are prepared on the basis of
evidence collected by caseworkers at PCHR.  We have met all our clients in
the Gaza Strip and learned directly from them what has happened to them and
their families.  We have been scrupulously careful in provenancing all
documents on which we rely.  The evidence we collect includes consultation
with international experts in weaponry, forensic pathology and international
law. 

 

It is a longstanding policy of
H&R and PCHR not to work with any government bodies in pursuing such
cases.  

 

We hope that the majority of right
thinking people will applaud the fact that the UK does not allow close
political ties with another government to over-ride its proper duty as a nation
to enforce the rule of law. We trust that Baroness Scotland delivers that
message when she addresses her audience in Jerusalem next year.

 

Yours
faithfully,

 

Daniel
Machover & Kate Maynard (Partners, Hickman & Rose)

Raji Sourani (Director, Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights)

 

 

 

2. Letter by PCHR and Hickman and
Rose, as published in the Guardian, 5 January 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/05/gaza-war-blocade-human-rights

 

Letters: Lawfare over Gaza war and blocade

 

On the first anniversary of Israel‘s large-scale military
operation in Gaza (Gaza war, one year on, 28 December) and amid
renewed debate in the UK on courts exercising universal jurisdiction over
crimes against humanity (Outcry
over plan to give attorney general veto on issuing of war crimes warrants
,
17 December), the attorney general, Patricia Scotland,
addresses the Hebrew University in Jerusalem today under the rubric: "Lawfare – Time for Rules of
Engagement?
". We hope that any characterisation she offers of universal jurisdiction cases is an accurate
one. The exercise of universal jurisdiction and the arrest warrant procedure
has become an increasingly important part of international criminal law and
will have a significant deterrent effect on future regimes which might
otherwise resort to mass murder, torture and war crimes.

 

Hickman & Rose and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a
non-partisan NGO based in Gaza, work together on cases that arise from events
in Gaza, which are prepared on the basis of evidence collected by caseworkers
at PCHR. We have met all our clients in the Gaza Strip and have been
scrupulously careful in provenancing all documentation. We hope that most
people will applaud the fact that the UK does not allow close political ties
with another government to override its proper duty to enforce the rule of law.
We trust that Baroness Scotland delivers that message in Jerusalem.

 

Daniel Machover and Kate Maynard Hickman
& Rose
, Raji Sourani PCHR

 

 

3. One of the responses by Guardian readers, published 9
January 2010

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/09/israel-palestine-gaza-hamas-attorney-general

 

The lawyers for Hickman and Rose claim they are "scrupulously
careful in provenancing all documentation" about alleged war crimes in
Gaza (Letters, 5 January). Unfortunately, they seem to be
undermined by the Hamas government, which announced
that it was the source of such documentation. British human rights lawyers seem
to be simply a conduit for a Hamas campaign.

 

Robin Stamler

Jerusalem, Israel

 

 

 

4.
Response to Robin Stamler’s Letter, submitted to the Guardian on 10 January
2010

 

Dear Sir,

 

In reply to our letter of 5 January,
Robin Stamler (Letters, 9 January) invokes the statements of a ‘documentation
centre’ established in 2009 by the Hamas government, as the basis for his claim
that British human rights lawyers are ‘simply a conduit for a Hamas campaign’.
It is a longstanding policy of Hickman and Rose and the Palestinian Centre for
Human Rights not to work with any government bodies in pursuing cases for
victims of alleged war crimes, torture or crimes against humanity.
Specifically, the documentation centre funded by the Gaza Ministry of Justice
is not the source of any documents relied upon by our clients. Further, we are
not a conduit for campaigns by any political party, but act for individual
victims. We hope that the focus of debate will remain on access to justice by
such victims and rule of law issues, which should arguably command the support
of all political parties, whether in this country or in the region.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Daniel Machover & Kate Maynard
(Partners, Hickman & Rose)

Raji Sourani (Director, Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights)