Schedule 1 - Excluded offences for the purposes of section 6

Part of Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 20th October 2020.

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Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence) 10:30 am, 20th October 2020

It is a fair argument from the right hon. Member for North Durham; there is a difference of opinion on this issue. We are very clear as to why sexual offences are on there—schedule 1lists the offences that are not relevant for the purposes of clause 6. The only offences contained in schedule 1 are sexual offences. This means that in cases involving alleged sexual offences on overseas operations more than five years ago, a prosecutor does not need to apply the statutory presumption and the matter is to be given particular weight when considering whether to prosecute.

Further, the prosecutor does not need the consent of the Attorney General for a case to get a prosecution; they will simply follow the usual procedures for determining whether or not to prosecute. For clarity, it should be noted that conflict-related sexual violence is classified as a war crime and is recognised as torture, a crime against humanity and genocide in international criminal law. These offences are referenced in paragraph 13 of part 1 and are listed in parts 2 and 3 of schedule 1.

Part 1 of schedule 1 lists sexual offences as criminal conduct offences under armed forces legislation, the Armed Forces Act 2006, and the corresponding offences under the law of England and Wales, including repeals provision. Part 2 of schedule 1 lists the sexual offences contained in the International Criminal Court Act 2001, under the law of England and Wales and the law of Northern Ireland. Part 3 of schedule 1 lists the sexual offences contained in the International Criminal Court Act 2001 under the law of Scotland. Part 4 of schedule 1 contains the provisions extending jurisdiction in respect of certain sexual offences. I reiterate to the Committee the reason for the exclusion of sexual offences.