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The main purpose of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill is to provide greater legal protections to Armed Forces personnel and veterans serving on military operations overseas.

The Public Bill Committee took place between 6 and 22 October 2020. The Committee took evidence from a number of leading stakeholders and conducted line-by-line scrutiny of the Bill. 

A significant number of amendments were tabled to Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill but no changes were made. The Bill therefore remains as introduced (Bill 117).

It is expected that several issues will be returned to on Report. Specifically, the application of the presumption against prosecution provisions in this Bill to torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity; and the proposed six-year time limit for bringing civil claims in relation to overseas operations.  Critics have argued that this limit erodes the rights of Service personnel and veterans and potentially breaches the Armed Forces Covenant. 

This paper should be read in conjunction with Library Briefing, CBP8983, Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill 2019-2021, which was produced prior to the Bill’s Second Reading. Section 5 of that paper looks at the arguments surrounding the Bill’s provisions. 

Report Stage has been scheduled for 3 November 2020. 

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