Quakers in Britain and Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture (Q-CAT) have briefed Peers in the UK Parlaiment’s House of Lords ahead of a debate on the Overseas Operations Bill – the so-called ‘Spy Cops’ legislation.

The Society of Friends says it believes the Bill will have a significant, negative impact on key values of truth, justice and peace in the UK and abroad. The Bill passed through the House of Commons in November 2020 and will now be debated in the House of Lords.

The Scottish Parliament recently voted against recognition of the Bill, with only the Conservatives voting in favour.

Quakers are again calling for the Bill to be paused so that the UK Government can reconsider how best to protect armed forces personnel, civilians and wider society. If the Bill cannot be paused, it must at least be amended to remove its most serious threats to human rights, including the time limits on prosecution.

Quakers say that they are concerned that the Bill:

  • Undermines international law
  • Does not protect troops or civilians
  • Is not needed to tackle repeat investigations against members of the armed forces who have served abroad
  • Weakens the rule of law and decreases the accountability of governments and armed forces.

They point out that tose wishing to take action can still write to their MP about the Bill, as any positive changes made by the Lords will need to be approved by MPs at later stages of the Bill.

Amnesty International and a raft of other civil and human rights groups have condemned the Spy Cops Bill.

* Read the Quaker briefing for parliamentarians here

* Source: Quakers in Britain