Crown claim no jurisdiction to prosecute census firm accused of war crimes, despite earlier precedent

Source: The Firm Magazine, 17 June 2009

The Crown Office have today confirmed that they will not be bringing charges against CACI, the US based company contracted to carry out the 2011 Scottish census who have been accused of torture, abuse and war crimes.

Yesterday The Firm reported that the company, who have offices in London, had been reported to the Police, who had passed a dossier of claims of the company's activities to the Crown Office. Human Rights lawyers John Scott and Aamer Anwar, as well as Scotland Against Criminalising Communities had expressed vocal outrage at the involvement of the company in Scotland's census.

"A formal request was made by a person resident in West Lothian for the local Procurator Fiscal to investigate allegations of war crimes at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq," the Crown Office said in a statement.

"The Crown have no jurisdiction to investigate the allegations made as they refer to foreign nationals on foreign soil and therefore the file has been returned"

The matter had been reported to the police on the basis that the Crown had jurisdiction based on the award of the Scottish census contract. In 1991 a prosecution was raised against Lithuanian national Anton Gecas, who had relocated to Edinburgh, for war crimes carried out in Lithuania during World War 2. That case ultimately did not yield a conviction on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution under the War Crimes Act. The issue of jurisdiction did not preclude a prosecution.

Professor Robert Black also argued that the Scottish judiciary have the legal right to prosecute breaches of the Geneva Conventions due to the doctrine of universal jurisdiction.

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