Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Another link in the spider web

It seems that South Africa has just become the latest link in America's unlawful "spider web" of extraordinary rendition. In November last year, they arrested a man named Khalid Rashid, on suspicion of links to Al Qaeda. He was hooded, interrogated, taken to a military airfield and stuck on a private Gulfstream jet with no flight plan. His current whereabouts are unknown, and according to his lawyer, he has been rendered for interrogation, in violation of South African and international law.

This is a particularly depressing development for South Africa. While that country has had all sorts of problems since the fall of apartheid - poverty, inequality, crime - they'd made quite good progress on the human rights front. Now, they're going backwards, to the dark days of disappearances.

It is vital that the struggle against terrorism does not reduce us to terrorists and human rights abusers ourselves. As Mr Rashid's lawyer notes,

"Just because someone is accused of being a terrorist, his legal rights should not vanish and he should not vanish"

If we have to stopp to such levels as disappearance, rendition and torture, then in a very important sense, the terrorists will have won.