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Work on wartime convictions could resume early in 2022

Work on wartime convictions could resume early in 2022

Wednesday 01 December 2021

Work on wartime convictions could resume early in 2022

Wednesday 01 December 2021

The States' Assembly will not be asked this year to acknowledge the injustice of the convictions of local policemen for stealing during the Occupation - and the men may not receive a statutory pardon when the Assembly does debate the matter.

Deputy Gavin St. Pier is campaigning for the sentences to be pardoned of several Guernsey police officers who stole food from shops and shared it with islanders who were in hungry or in some cases starving.

At least 16 men were sent to German labour camps and their families have been searching for justice ever since. Not all of the 16 survived. Some returned with life-changing injuries or diseases. After the War, they were treated as criminals and denied their pensions. 

The Policy & Resources Committee yesterday replied to written questions from Deputy St. Pier in which he asked the Committee when it would bring the matter to the States' Assembly.

Policy & Resources Committee

Pictured: The members of the Policy & Resources Committee, who have not been able to take the matter of wartime convictions to the States this year but hope to resume work on it early next year.

"Work on the Occupation period matter will recommence as soon as possible, provided that it can be progressed alongside the Government Work Plan priorities; hopefully early in the New Year," said the Committee. 

"The Committee still aims to bring a policy letter to the States to recognise the issues and complexities associated with certain criminal convictions during the Occupation.

"The possibility of a statutory pardon is being considered but is not the only possible outcome. These issues need careful consideration. A statutory pardon would require a number of complex constitutional and legal issues to be overcome, which may take significant time and resources to deal with if supported by the Assembly.

"Other options, such as a Resolution or statement by the States of Deliberation, may provide an alternative which carries sufficient political weight to address the issue for the relatives concerned, and the wider community, and which may be more expedient."

After receiving the Committee's response, Deputy St. Pier said: "[The] preference will, I suspect, be to avoid disturbing [the] status quo too much and the work associated with that - hence reference to an apology or resolution. But I'm content for now to wait and see what comes forward and then decide [an] appropriate response."

Deputy St. Pier said that he was "grateful for a speedy response to my written question on securing pardons for wrongful Occupation convictions" but "disappointed" that he received no firm commitment about when the matter would be taken to the States' Assembly. He said he would "need to continue to keep a watchful eye to ensure timely progress" but was "pleased the commitment remains to address these injustices".

Pictured: Dr Gilly Carr is a historian with expertise in Holocaust studies. She commented online following publication of the Policy & Resources Committee's reply to Deputy Gavin St. Pier's written questions.

The Committee had originally intended to take a policy letter to the States by the end of this year. Earlier in 2021, the Committee said it would "make every effort" to secure justice for anyone who was wrongly punished by the judicial system during the Occupation.

Express has frequently reported on the campaign of the families of the convicted policeman and the political campaign now under way to pardon them. 

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