In this case, the Supreme Court is considering the interpretation of the term “person acting Jones_Jin an official capacity” in the Criminal Justice Act 1988, s 134(1).

s 134 gives the UK universal jurisdiction over the crime of torture, so that a person alleged to have committed torture (defined by s 134(1) as intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering on another in the performance or purported performance of official duties) can be tried in the UK regardless of their nationality or the place in the world where the torture is alleged to have been committed.

An offence under s 134 can only be committed by “a public official or person acting in an official capacity”. The question for the court in this case is what exactly that phrase means, and who will therefore fall within the category of people capable of committing the crime.

The legal issue arises as a preliminary issue in the trial of Agnes Reeves-Taylor, who is awaiting trial on seven charges of torture and one charge of conspiracy to torture, dating back to 1989-1991 during the first Liberian civil war.

Since this is a preliminary issue arising in the context of live criminal proceedings, automatic reporting restrictions apply preventing reporting of proceedings.