War Crimes Act 1991: Wikis


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The War Crimes Act 1991 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It confers jurisdiction on courts in the United Kingdom to try people for war crimes committed in Nazi Germany or German-occupied territory during the Second World War by people who were not British citizens at the time, but have since become British citizens or residents. The legislation was enacted, as there then were no provisions to allow the extradition of British residents, or naturalised citizens to face trial for war crimes in third countries [1]. Other countries, such as the United States have used civil, rather than criminal proceedings, to resolve this issue by revoking citizenship of suspects, facilitating their deportation. [2]

The Act was rejected by the House of Lords, and so it was passed with the authority of only the House of Commons, under the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. This remains the only time that the Parliament Acts were invoked by a Conservative government.

To date only one person, Anthony Sawoniuk, has been convicted under the Act. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and died in jail in 2005.


  1. ^ Prosecution prepares war crimes trial BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk, 8 February 1999 (accessed 10 January 2009)
  2. ^ Unhappy record on Nazi suspects BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk, 8 February 1999 (accessed 10 January 2009).

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