Tuesday, September 08, 2015

An extrajudicial execution

Britain has started remotely murdering its own citizens:

The British government authorised an unprecedented airstrike in Syria that killed two Britons fighting with Islamic State, David Cameron has announced.

The target of the RAF drone attack was Reyaad Khan, a 21-year-old from Cardiff who had featured in a prominent Isis recruiting video last year. Two other Isis fighters were killed in the attack on the Syrian city of Raqqa on 21 August. One of them, Ruhul Amin, 26, was also British.

Cameron justified the assassination in the sovereign territory of another country on the basis that Khan represented a specific threat to UK security, and that he had exercised the country’s “inherent right to self-protection”. He said the strike was not part of the coalition’s general fight against Isis in Syria.

“It was necessary and proportionate for the individual self-defence of the UK,” Cameron said on Monday.

I find that extremely hard to believe. You can justify using lethal force in circumstances of immediate threat to life. Anything less is simply extrajudicial execution. And given that these people weren't even in the UK, the idea that they (as opposed to people they have been conspiring with) posed such a threat is ludicrous.

The UK is a party to numerous international instruments banning punishment without trial and the death penalty. It does not permit either in domestic law. But that's exactly what their government has done. And by doing so, they're behaving no differently from other tyrannies who murder their domestic political opponents abroad. The politicians and officials responsible for this decision, and the drone-pilots who carried it out, should all be prosecuted for murder. And hopefully, that's exactly what UK human rights organisations will do.