London: European capital of fugitive criminals
If you committed a crime in your country of residence, go to London. London does not extradite. The British justice system is structured in such a way that offenders from any country except the United States can be granted asylum. This means not only shelter, but also the ability to live quietly, without looking back at the police. It is no accident that many oligarchs have a home in London.
The UK Home Office in 2012 identified a hundred people suspected of committing war crimes. These people have previously submitted applications to the immigration service of the country with a request for permanent residence. Most of them have been living in the UK for many years. These are people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Serbia.
According to the statements made by the British Ministry of the Interior, they are doing everything possible to prevent Britain from becoming a safe haven for war criminals. In fact, the situation is somewhat different. Legal courts tend to block the deportation of such criminals, claiming that they may face torture or death in their home country. Human rights organizations, in turn, insist that such persons should be criminally prosecuted in British courts.
Since the beginning of last year, the British police have studied approximately 800 cases of defendants suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Negative recommendations were given to 99 people who have applied for political asylum or a residence permit in the UK. Another 16 criminals requested a visa to enter Britain. Of the 99 suspects identified only three were deported. 20 of them have not been granted asylum, and 46 - citizenship. The fate of the others is unknown.
Over the period from 2005 to 2012 the British Ministry of the Interior has determined that over 700 war criminals reside in the country. According to the London police, at the moment 56 persons suspected of war crimes are under investigation. All of them are currently in the UK. Michael McCann, the chairman of the multi-party group on genocide prevention talked about the need to improve the transparency of official information about criminals residing on British soil. He argued that the unit tasked with these matters has failed, and that a large number of mistakes have been made. He added that he suspected that the Ministry of the Interior kept facts to themselves and offered to figure out what was going on to reassure the public.
In May of this year, five citizens of Rwanda were arrested in the UK. They are suspected of involvement in the genocide in 1994 when 800,000 people were killed. Interestingly enough, some of the suspects have been living in the UK for over ten years. Three suspects are in custody and two were released on bail. All of them have denied any involvement in the genocide.
In 2009 there was an unsuccessful attempt to banish these people from the country. However, the High Court ruled that there was a high likelihood that these people would not be able to stand trial in Rwanda. This case, according to human rights activists, clearly shows the problems that arise when dealing with such cases in Britain.
Kevin Laue, a legal adviser of the charitable organization Redress believes that the police needs to be provided with additional resources related to the investigation of such crimes, which requires political will and allocation of the required resources.
A survivor of the genocide in Rwanda said that she was afraid to even imagine meeting war criminals from Rwanda on the streets of London. These memories cause acute emotional pain. She said that these people should be sent to the country where they committed the crimes. If this is impossible, the criminals should be tried in Britain, as this would allow others to understand that punishment is still inevitable, no matter where the criminals are hiding.
One of the Rwandan criminals worked in a nursing home in Essex for several years. Many UK recruitment agencies do not conduct background checks when hiring. As a result of such negligence caretakers for elderly people could be those convicted of theft or violence. Recent checks have revealed over 220 agencies that employ unskilled and unreliable employees. One Birmingham agency employed 23 people with a criminal record, although the organization had a license and a contract with the city authorities for 800 thousand pounds.
For many criminals from different countries the United Kingdom has long been a second home. They can commit heinous crime at home, launder their money, come to England and live there peacefully. The tradition of requesting asylum is a long-standing one. Offenders only need to get into the UK, declare that they are persecuted at home for political, racial, religious or other valid reasons and ask for asylum.
Refugees in Britain receive everything they need from the government, including free housing, unemployment benefits, the right to work, and the prospect of an expedited citizenship. The only problem is the fact that they cannot return to their home country. But why would they go back to the country where they are wanted by law enforcement authorities?
In addition to common thieves and rapists, England is visited by people who committed certain machinations and earned a lot of money in their own country, but have problems with local law enforcement. They can start a new business in the UK. Everyone knows that Britain is a country with great business opportunities, particularly for people who have significant funds. They buy property in the UK and become citizens. British authorities will never extradite citizens with money. Some dishonest businessmen, but rather, swindlers, take advantage of this situation.
Such statement was made by Russian ambassador in London Yuri Fedotov in 2009. He expressed regret that people who have committed serious criminal offenses can quietly disappear in the UK. According to him, there are about 20 people in England declared wanted in Russia. He particularly mentioned emissary of the Chechen terrorists Akhmed Zakayev.
According to the Russian Federal Security Service, Zakayev was planning to organize armed units in Dagestan and Chechnya to recreate the bandit underground. In 2001 he was declared wanted on charges of organizing murder of civilians and law enforcement officials. This man is also accused of terrorism by Russian authorities. However, London, referring to the abuse of process in the pursuit of Zakayev, granted the criminal asylum.
According to Fedotov, Russia regularly sends inquiries to the competent British departments and transfers materials collected by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, however, the British courts do not consider them. The British say that persons granted political asylum cannot be extradited. The examples include Berezovsky accused of tax evasion, the former head of the Bank of Moscow Andrei Borodin, accused of fraud, and others. All of them were or are still hiding in the UK. Others have homes in London in order to immediately land on the backup soil in the event of criminal charges.
Criminals flee to the UK because they are sure that they will not be extradited. But this cannot continue as there will be a day when the criminals start applying in the UK their bad habits brought from home, adding to the crime situation. If the British government does not change its policy, over time they will reap the bitter fruits of their short-sighted policies.