Fishy Tales

08 December 2005

Moral Victories

After 3 months in Rip Van Winkle mode I awake to good tidings: the Law Lords ruling I first mentioned back in May's Tortuous Thread has found in favour of common decency and morality over fear and control-freakery (my words, of course). More specifically it has specified that secret evidence which might have been obtained by torture cannot be used in UK courts. This includes some evidence obtained in US detention camps, which is significant.

I like part of Charles (Big Brother) Clarke's response:
Mr Clarke said it was "one thing to condemn torture as we all do" but another to "find a solution to the question that this case raises which occupies the moral high ground but at the same time serves the public interest and is practicable"
No, mate, I'm sorry - it really is as simple as the Law Lords made it sound. It is never going to be in the public interest to condone torture, however implicitly. And if the definition of 'torture' were that unclear, how come memoranda of understanding can be agreed with other countries that meaningfully guarantee people deported back to those countries will not suffer torture, persecution or other unarguable abuses of human rights?

Condoleeza Rice is currently playing a very similar game for the US. The attitude is something like "Well, of course that has been our approach all along - how could you ever doubt us and suspect us of playing fast and loose with human rights??" But I would stake money on the fact that there is a heck of a lot of running around cleaning up and covering up tracks behind the scenes. And an unequivocal statement in this area is equivalent to backing down, and thereby changing a policy. - a policy that really was obscene .

I'll sleep a little easier tonight.

23rd February 2006: The BBC reports that the ForeignAffairs Committee has turned out some very pithy and stinging comments in its report on Human Rights.
We conclude that the government has a duty to enquire into the allegations of extraordinary rendition and black sites under the Convention against Torture, and to make clear to the USA that any extraordinary rendition to states where suspects may be tortured is completely unacceptable.
They also turn their fire on America's Guantanamo Bay prison camp, arguing that the centre "diminishes the USA's moral authority and is a hindrance to the effective pursuit of the war against terrorism".
"We recommend that the government make loud and public its objections to the existence of such a prison regime," say the MPs.
Hear, hear. If we really are a good friend to the US we should be able to tell it straight. Agreement without question is for creeps. Or cowards.