No Immunity For A Prince

British Government Suffers Second Defeat

The British government has suffered another defeat for its policy of treating as above the law those it believes to be “royal”.

In October 2014 the High Court quashed a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions that Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa was, as reported by the Financial Times (FT), “immune from prosecution in the UK because of his royal status”.

A citizen of Bahrain who was given asylum in Britain wanted Sheikh Nasser, the son of the king of Bahrain, arrested on the grounds that he was involved in the torture of pro-democracy prisoners.

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes torture anywhere in the world by a public official an offence that can be prosecuted in Britain.

According to Ala’a Shehabi, a Bahraini activist, “No one should be above international law, including members of the Bahraini ruling family accused of torture”.

But the monarchist British state sees things differently. And, as reported by the FT, in August 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) “indicated that Prince Nasser enjoyed immunity under the State Immunity Act as a member of the Bahraini royal household and had functional immunity as commander of the Royal Guard of Bahrain”.

Although the High Court has now ruled against the immunity sought by the CPS it is unlikely that al-Khalifa will be prosecuted in the UK.

The “royal” Sheik Nasser called into a TV show during his regime’s suppression of democracy demonstrations to say that those who demanded democracy instead of monarchy would be held “accountable”.

Bahrain has had a king since 2002 when the then Emir decided that the emirate should become a kingdom and that he should be the king of the kingdom.

The British monarchists have also been trying to give immunity from the law to the British Windsor family. In this case they want immunity from the Freedom of Information Act.

Again it has taken judges to put the rights of the people before feudal privilege. In March 2014 the Court of Appeal ruled that a government decision to suppress letters from Charles Windsor to government ministers was unlawful.