Thursday, August 25, 2005



Sacrificing freedom

In the wake of the London bombings, Tony Blair promised "tough" action from his government, including deporting those accused of supporting terrorism to countries where they faced a substantial risk of persecution and torture. His government has now formalised this plan, and announced that it will move "very quickly" to start deportations.

There are two problems with this. The first is that it is grossly contrary to the UK's obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, which prohibits expelling or deporting someone where there are "substantial grounds for believing" that they would be tortured. While the British government has sought assurances from potential host governments that anyone they deport would not be subjected to such treatment, these are not worth the paper they're written on, and the UN HRC's special rapporteur on torture has already declared that such expulsions would violate the convention. If the person is a refugee, then they would also be covered under anti-refoulement provision in the Refugee Convention. And then there's British law... the UK's Human Rights Act implements the ECHR's provision barring torture, and any deportation could easily be challenged under this.

The second problem is that the criteria include "writing, producing, publishing or distributing material, public speaking including preaching, running a website; or using a position of responsibility" to express views which "justify or glorify terrorist violence". Note not specifically inciting crimes or even advocating that such attacks occur, but simply saying they are morally justifiable. No matter which way you slice it, this is a fundamental attack on freedom of speech. It will be challenged in court, and it is difficult to imagine the court which freed the Belmarsh detainees on the basis that indefinite detention for immigrants but not citizens was blatantly discriminatory upholding similarly discriminatory restrictions on speech. I'll also add that I can think of no better way to alienate moderate Muslisms than to enshrine a double standard which punishes those who defend terrorist violence against civilians, while those who defend US or Israeli violence against civilians suffer no penalty. You don't win a war of ideas through censorship, and you don't win it by that sort of public hypocrisy either.

16 comments:

Still - the government defines the law. the desires of the public and the government can only be restrained to a certain extent by such things.

Posted by Genius : 8/25/2005 06:31:00 PM

British governments, unlike NZ ones do not have unfettered legislative power to abuse human rights.

At the end of the day, unless they can weasel around it, the European Court of Human Rights has the final say.

The UK could leave the convention, but given that membership is a de-facto requirement of EU membership, it would be likely to end up in Britain's suspension from the EU. Which would probably be popular with some sections of the populace right up until the first car factory closes down.

Posted by Rich : 8/25/2005 07:34:00 PM

Calling this a 'war of ideas' is like describing racism as being 'a war of ideas' - it glosses over the fact that one side of this 'argument' is predicated upon prejudice, hatred and ignorance - none of which should be described as ideas.

And so it is with this war against a rampantly expansionist, ruthless, fascistic religious fanaticism. Excluding people who have a record of preaching relgious hatred would be as legitimate as barring a KKK grand Wizard from entering the country: hence, I support the move wholeheartedly. This is a defence of human rights, not an erosion of them - a point that human 'rights' activists perenially have trouble grasping - the right of a population to be free from lunatics inciting hatred and violence.

Posted by Adrien : 8/26/2005 01:25:00 AM

Beyond the above, your comparison with Iraq I/S is fatuous to the point of dishonesty. Who is killing civilians in Iraq? I do not see American troops deliberately targeting children and civilians - I DO see Muslim extremists doing so. Deliberately. Likewise, suicide bombings are aimed at the innocent and the non-violent. For all your hand-wringing about Civilian casualties in Iraq, you can't summon the intellectual honesty to ditinguish between US forces trying to protect civilians and Muslim fanatics who AIM their attacks at women, children, civilian men.

But of course, that dosn't bear mentioning from you, does it. And as for pandering to 'moderate Muslims' - no thank you. If they are likely to be offended by having hate preaching barred, then they are obviously NOT 'moderate'.

Something in your brain just shuts down when 'America' gets mentioned, dosn't it?

Posted by Adrienne : 8/26/2005 01:33:00 AM

Adrienne - you appear to have swallowed mainstream media headlines, without looking any deeper.

If you have never heard of Americans deliberately killing civilians, you should find out about Fallujah.

Futher, Iraqi journalists are saying that the events at Fallujah are being repeated all over Iraq.
The Fallujah incident was part of a trend.
It was not an exeptional occourance
It is clear that the collective punishments being met out on Iraqi cities cause civilian deaths.

There is a clear hypocrisy resident in a law that would allow speech defending the gratiouitisly violent occupiers of Iraq,
whilst banning public explanations of the causes of Muslim anger towards the West.

FYI
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1471011,00.html
http://dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog/archives/dispatches/000196.php
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=40&ItemID=5552

Posted by Anonymous : 8/26/2005 07:33:00 AM

Bollocks - I read widely, and I don't believe that there's any media out there tasked with telling the otherwise overlooked truth. Get over your conspiracy theories...

You mention Fallujah and 'Muslim Anger' - I didn't see that anger when Saddam gassed Kurds, and I don't see it when Sunni maniacs kill barbers for shaving men, women for working, and murder countless innocent civilians in cold calculation. American AND British troops are trying to save civilian lives against this - what bothers you about that.

Posted by Adrian : 8/26/2005 08:22:00 AM

Idiot, your last paragraph contains one unsubstantiated assertion and one invalid comparison.

The argument that alienation of moderate Muslims would result from the new anti-terrorist measures overlooks the fact this alienation has already been occurring. And it is not necessarily true that the recent terrorism in the UK, or in other places, is the result of alienated moderates.

Those that put forward this type of root cause argument tend to wind up projecting their own pre-occupations and fears of intrusion into freedoms of speech etc. This, funnily enough, hardly ever corresponds to the motives of the terrorists themselves. Promoting freedom of speech and other liberal values is the last thing on their minds - they are actively seeking to destroy such values. It hardly makes sense then to say Blair's proposed measures is some how going to alienate them.

As for the comparison between the likes of the London bombers and the US and Israel, there is no comparison. The difference is between the actions of self defense by democracies, which are never perfect, and the actions of the enemies of democracy who have absolutely no scruples and make the killing of innocents a virtue.

The UK has been far to soft on those elements which have stirred up hatred and encouraged violence. It is reasonable to take measures to prevent them spreading their poison as is the case in France.

Posted by Sock Thief : 8/26/2005 09:19:00 AM

Bollocks to you "reading widely".

You havn't even looked at the links I provided.

Despite your opinion on the media's commision, the truth is begin reported. It takes an appetite for truth, and a sufficiently analytical curiousity to find it.

If you are curious enough, you will find eyewitness reports of deliberate and systematic war crimes being committed by American soldiers.

Try starting with the links I provided.

As for you missing the reaction of the Muslim world to the atrocities of Halabja,
perhaps you should read wider.
If you were reading press from the Arab and Muslim world, you would have seen over the years much objection to the tyranny of Saddam.

For further reading, try some media literacy material. Perhaps then, you would not use the term "conspiracy theory" so lightly.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/26/2005 09:33:00 AM

"And so it is with this war against a rampantly expansionist, ruthless, fascistic religious fanaticism."

Now I'm getting confused... Are you refering to terrorists or the Bush administration?

Posted by Anonymous : 8/26/2005 09:35:00 AM

Anon - welcome to an encounter with the legendary immovable object.
We all take turns, but eventually give up..

Posted by huskynut : 8/26/2005 09:44:00 AM

Huskynnut - speaking of 'giving up' assumes that you had something cogent to say in the first place. All I see are meaningless analogies and waffled cliches. If you make a point I'll respond it, but if you ask me to 'close my eyes' and imagine', I'll presume that you're seeing the pink elephants again...

And 'Anon': so rare to see someone with a name that so thoroughly matches their thought and writing! Recycling cliches is neither green nor useful however, and you just end up flecking spittle on my nice new computer. What exactly are you saying? Do you consider that American and Bitish troops target innocent human life in the same manner as Sunni car bombers and execution squads? Please make this point clear. Do you consider this a morally just resistance to 'an occupying power'? Once you tell me that, I'll have more of an idea of the argument you're trying to make...

Posted by Adriene : 8/26/2005 12:02:00 PM

Adriene:

I have made my points clearly.
But, because you have failed to see them, I will re-iterate.

It is clear that there are instances in which American soldiers target civilians.
It is clear that in doing so, they are following policy.
Reading widely could provide evidence of this.
Refer to the links that I provide above.
I can provide more, if wish to read even more widely.

Your other questions are worth asking, and I have opinions on them, but I would prefer to stick to one opinion at a time, in order not to cloud the issue.

Posted by no longer anon... sunil : 8/26/2005 01:35:00 PM

I completely refute that there's ANY American policy to target civilians. Utter nonsense. However, as I've been saying, there certainly IS a Muslim fanaticist polcy to target civilians (and children). This dosn't seem to worry you, however...

You claim that this is a 'clear policy' - rubbish, and I find your sources wholly unconvincing. A clear policy of targeting civilians happened in London on 7/7. It happened in the bombings of world war 2, it happened in the rape of Nanking, it happened when America bombed Cambodia, it happened in the Balkans in the 1990s. Now tell me how it's happening in Iraq, besides the afore-mentioned Islamic fanatics?

Posted by adrian : 8/26/2005 03:47:00 PM

umm, well sorry no, you haven't actually refuted it. Denied, yes, refuted, no. There's a slight difference.

Posted by huskynut : 8/26/2005 05:22:00 PM

refute
v 1: overthrow by argument, evidence, or proof; "The speaker
refuted his opponent's arguments"

I await your refutation.

Further, you imply that I am an apologist for Islamist terror.
Once more, let me clarify:
You are obviously familiar with perspectives that decry terror committed by Islamists.
Good.
It's not my intention to preach to the converted.
Rather, I object to the hypocrisy as I see it, and as I have stated above.

All terror is abominable.
That includes terror comitted by the American military, as a matter of policy.

We all know that there are atrocities being committed by various Muslim parties.

What the western world overlooks, are the war crimes being committed by the occupation forces.

Consider, the use of DU ammunitions causing cancer rates of up to 50% in some villages, napalming cities full of civilians, sniping at ambulances.

To answer your tailing question, see my above comments and the links I have provided.

But you say you object to them.
Which sources do you find unconvincing?

The popular british newspaper that talks about civilians being trapped in a free-fire zone, to be considered legitimate targets by American soldiers?

The Iraqi journalist, who talked to residents of a terrorized city?

The soldier who objected to being ordered to fire on civilians?

Read widely if you wish to understand the events of Iraq in historical context.
I recomend Smedley Butler, who for a while was the highest decorated marine in US history:
http://lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm

Posted by sunil : 8/27/2005 03:37:00 AM

I've just got home after a late night. I'll reply when I'm not falling asleep...

Posted by adrien : 8/28/2005 03:02:00 AM