IN the dying days of his long political career, Jack Straw seems to have found a new lease of life. Having been Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary, and now the inaugural Justice Minister, Mr Straw is not in any need of proving his versatility and competence. Yet, in one week he has announced two major and quite different measures of reform. The first is for new legislation to enable the British government to prosecute foreign nationals resident in Britain for serious international crimes committed elsewhere. Thus a leader accused of genocide in his own country who escaped to Britain could in future be arrested and charged in the UK. There are said to be a dozen or so people currently resident in Britain who would come under this legislation.

Mr Straw's second initiative is to take further the relaxation of reporting of children's courts which he encouraged in April. Now he wants to formalise this positive development and extend its provision to adoption cases which currently cannot be reported. There are, of course, dangers in opening the trauma of family disputes and suffering children to public gaze. But Jack Straw says he has been encouraged by the responsibility shown so far by the media in reporting them and wants to go further, on the basic principle that “No part of the judicial system is private.”


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