Dear [INSERT THE NAME OF YOUR MP],
My name is [INSERT NAME] and I am a constituent of [INSERT CONSTITUENCY].
I am also a member of the UK section of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), an international, feminist NGO. WILPF is the oldest international women’s peace organisation active today and has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
I am writing to you to express significant concerns surrounding the grave violation of human rights in relation to the Overseas Operations Bill (OOB) currently debated in the House of Commons.
The OOB undermines the fundamental legal principle of fairness and equality, by placing military personnel above the law and the UK’s international legal obligation to human rights. This Bill will create an unjust balance between the rights of the military and victims by necessitating the prosecution to take into account certain factors. The OOB is contrary to not only the principle of rule of law but also its aim of ending cycles of repeated investigations and cases against service personnel and veterans. Some of our concerns in relation to the operational effect of this Bill are as follows:
- By introducing an unprecedented ‘triple lock’ block on prosecutions for most of the serious offences and making prosecutions far more difficult, the OOB would increase the risk of war crimes and crimes against humanity including torture going unpunished. This would in effect decriminalise torture and other breaches of human rights committed by UK forces overseas over five years ago.
- The OOB also creates absolute time bars on civil claims against the Ministry of Defence by both survivors of torture and other abuse and UK soldiers themselves and denies redress. This is particularly concerning in cases when claimants remain unlawfully detained and are unable to bring claims within the time limit and/or when the UK’s role in their mistreatment is not revealed within this time.
In light of the concerns presented by the OOB, the WILPF UK urges you to vote against the Bill at the third reading in November. Rather than being rushed, such an important piece of legislation that is fundamental to the protection of human rights should be given more time for scrutiny, discussion and amendment.
[INSERT YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS]