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UK officials in line for immunity in assisting crimes overseas, say critics

Draft security bill would let spies and ministers enable killings and torture, warn charity and ex-minister.

Ministers and spies would be given immunity from accusations of assisting crimes overseas under a new national security law to be debated by MPs next week, a human rights charity and former Tory cabinet minister have warned.

Reprieve, an international human rights charity, said it would effectively grant immunity to ministers or officials who provide information to foreign partners that leads to someone being tortured or unlawfully killed in a drone strike.

Concerns were also raised that the move would restrict victims’ ability to seek civil damages in the courts.

Maya Foa, joint executive director of Reprieve, said it was an unthinkable power to grant ministers and officials that would “risk putting them above the ordinary criminal law” and could even embolden leaders to “commit serious crimes thinking they can do so with effective impunity”.

Foa said that enacting clause 23 of the national security bill would “destroy the UK’s moral legitimacy to condemn similar atrocities by autocratic states” after the murder of Khashoggi, a journalist who US intelligence agencies believe was killed on the orders of the Saudi ruler, Mohammed bin Salman. Read the full story in The Guardian.