September 13, 2006

States should be prosecuted for their illegal actions

Filed under: Politics/News — 4fooey @ 1:00 pm

Prime Minister Tony Blair has called it an “anomaly”. Lord Goldsmith, the UK Attorney General, has described it as “unacceptable”. And now Lord Falconer, the UK Lord Chancellor, described it as a “shocking affront to the principles of democracy”. They’re talking of course about Guantanamo Bay. Lord Falconer’s comments were reported on the BBC site: UK minister condemns Guantanamo. But why has it taken ministers so long to denounce this secret prison? Being a close ally of the US is one thing, but this actually puts the UK government in a better position to question the existence of Guantanamo. If we are to fight this so-called ‘war on terror’ we must do so within the law, and in particular international law – the existence of Guantanamo Bay and the practises that go on there, are completely beyond any laws. And if leading figures, such as those in the UK government, the UN, and other humanitarian organistions, believe that Guantanamo is illegal then why can we not shut the place down, perhaps through international legal means. Once shut down the US should then be prosecuted for having had such a place.

Legal inaction by the international community is seen in others instances. In the recent conflict in the Lebanon, Jan Egeland the UN’s humanitarian chief, described the destruction of Beirut as “horrific” and “disproportionate”, saying it was a “violation of humanitarian law“. If this is literally true, then why doesn’t the UN prosecute Israel for such actions – do the legal mechanisms exist to prosecute states for such violations? Back in 2004, the UN chief Kofi Annan described the Iraq war as “illegal” and contravening the UN charter. This is a bold statement for the UN Secretary-General to make, but if it is true and the war was illegal, then why is no-one or any states being prosecuted for this?

The international community must play by the rules of law to defeat terrorism. It must be even-handed in the way it applies the law and in the actions it takes.


1 Comment »

  1. Amnesty International made a public statement about Guantamano in April 2004. Nothing seems to have changed since then. George W Bush and Co. won’t budge because they say that the ‘War on Terrurr’ has created ‘special’ circumstances that justify holding prisoners without trial. It is scandalous. I wonder if anything will change when T Blair hands over power? Don’t hold your breath. Amnesty International UK campaigns on behalf of individual prisoners, as well as persistently calling for the closure of the base.

    Comment by Margaret — October 2, 2006 @ 10:21 am

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