Thursday, November 20, 2014

Justice is more important than international relations

Yunus Rahmatullah is a Pakistani citizen. In 2004 he was disappeared by British forces in Iraq. The British then gave him to the Americans who rendered him to Afghanistan and kept him there without charge or trial for ten years, during which he was tortured. He was finally released in May this year, and is now seeking justice through the UK courts. Now, the courts have ruled that potential damage to foreign relations is no barrier to the case proceeding:

The high court has dismissed the government’s claim that Britain’s relations with the US would be damaged if a Pakistani citizen who says he was tortured by British and American troops was allowed to sue for damages in court.

British courts would be failing in their duty if they did not deal with the claims even if that involved the court finding that US officials acted unlawfully, Mr Justice Leggatt ruled on Wednesday.

“If it is necessary to adjudicate on whether acts of US personnel were lawful … in order to decide whether the defendants violated the claimant’s legal rights, then the court can and must do so,” he said.

He added: “For the court to refuse to decide a case involving a matter of legal right on the ground that vindicating the right would be harmful to state interests would seem to me to be an abdication of its constitutional function.”

Not to mention an outright denial of the principle that the government is also subject to the law.

This case has a long way to go yet, but if past behaviour is anything to go by the British will settle once it becomes clear that they actually show up in court, in order to avoid an actual court ruling that they tortured people or collaborated in torture. Why? Because such a ruling would then expose British politicians, spies and generals to criminal charges. And apparently the whole point of the British legal establishment is not to ensure that torturers are prosecuted, but to prevent that from happening.

No wonder no-one believes in the British state: its a scam to protect the powerful. Always has been, always will be.