Friday, May 10, 2019

British government wants impunity for its crimes

Imagine if a government argued that murderers and rapists should not be "pursued unfairly for events that took place decades ago". That's exactly what the British Minister of Defence is arguing for soldiers:

The new defence secretary, Penny Mordaunt, declared that army veterans should not be “pursued unfairly for events that took place decades ago” hinting that she favoured an amnesty for British soldiers from historical prosecutions.

The minister was hoping to defuse a protest from Conservative backbencher Johnny Mercer who had said on Wednesday night that he would refuse to support the government in the Commons until fresh legislation is brought forward.


Her predecessor, Gavin Williamson, was planning to bring forward legislation with a 10-year limit for cases to be brought to trial in response to concerns raised after news that a former paratrooper would be prosecuted for the murder of two people killed on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

It was not immediately clear if Mordaunt intended to follow Williamson’s lead by introducing a bill in a future Queen’s speech. The previous proposal was to introduce a statutory presumption against prosecution if the alleged offence took place over 10 years ago.

To point out the obvious: the reason British soldiers like "Soldier F" are pursued for decades is because they have committed serious crimes - in his case, murder. The effect of an amnesty is to grant them impunity for such crimes. That's not morally acceptable. But as the UK is also a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, it would simply mean that they would have to be tried in The Hague rather than UK courts - and that the Ministers who purportedly granted them amnesty would be in the dock next to them as accessories after the fact for attempting to protect them from justice.