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Michael Fallon - Ministry of Defence

Over the past decade a series of court judgments have extended the reach of the European Convention on Human Rights to combat zones. This extra-territorial jurisdiction was never envisaged by the Conventions authors.

While the Courts have been seeking to reconcile the Convention with the long established Law of Armed Conflict (or International Humanitarian Law), our military personnel have been engaged in operations overseas in support of the international community. They have had to do so in the face of growing legal uncertainty and an unprecedented level of litigation, much of it fuelled by a small number of law firms. In addition to the millions of pounds this litigation has been costing the taxpayer, the resulting uncertainties have been distressing to many current personnel and veterans, and military advice is that there is a risk of seriously undermining the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces.

It is for these reasons that the government through a range of measures is implementing the manifesto commitment to ensure our Armed Forces overseas are not subject to persistent legal claims that undermine their ability to do their job.

I am today informing the House that before embarking on significant future military operations, this government intends derogating from the European Convention on Human Rights, where this is appropriate in the precise circumstances of the operation in question. Any derogation would need to be justified and could only be made from certain Articles of the Convention.

In the event of such a derogation, our Armed Forces will continue to operate to the highest standards and be subject to the rule of law. They remain at all times subject to UK Service Law, which incorporates the criminal law of England and Wales, and International Humanitarian Law (the law of armed conflict including the Geneva Conventions) wherever in the world they are serving. Therefore any credible allegations of criminal wrongdoing by members of the Armed Forces will continue to be investigated, and prosecuted within the Service Justice System.

Meanwhile the government will continue to work tirelessly to uphold International Humanitarian Law in armed conflicts and to ensure that the appropriate, time-honoured balance between military necessity and humanitarian concerns as enshrined in the Geneva Conventions - continues to govern armed conflicts throughout the world.

This announcement is an important part of our plan to deliver our manifesto pledge including limiting the length of time that claims can be brought against the government; strengthening the penalties for firms who engage in vexatious practices; and to reduce the financial incentive for law firms to pursue spurious claims.


Ben Gummer - Cabinet Office

Further to the Governments statement of March 2016, the transfer of CERT-UK (the Computer Emergency Response Team, UK) functions and staff to the new National Cyber Security Centre has now completed. CERT-UK has ceased operating and will be closed. The new Centre, which will open publicly over the coming months, is part of GCHQ and will be the UK's authority on cyber security. More information on the National Cyber Security Centre will be set out in the government's National Cyber Security Strategy which will be published later this year.


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