Tuesday, 17 February 2009

TWOT's baleful influence condemned

Stella Rimington, ex-head of MI5, has condemned "certain decisions of the Government, especially the attempt to pass laws which interfere with people’s privacy" (1). Her job put her in charge of Britian's internal security, and thus she might be expected to have a more understanding attitude towards the changes 'necessitated' by the War on Terror. But not so:

“It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state.

“The US has gone too far with Guantánamo and the tortures. MI5 does not do that. Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect: there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification.” (2)
Rimmington also spoke out agaisnt the deeply dim ID cards scheme and the extention of detention-without-charge to 42 days (3).

Seperately, a report [PDF] from an International Commission of Jurists deplored how western social-democratic states
... have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses, introducing an array of measures which undermine cherished values as well as the international legal framework carefully developed since the Second World War. ese measures have resulted in human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearances, secret and arbitrary detentions, and unfair trials. ere has been little accountability for these abuses or justice for their victims (4).
The panel found
... many current counter-terrorist measures are illegal and even counterproductive ... the framework of international law is being actively undermined, and many States are reneging on their treaty or customary law obligations. The failure of States to comply with their legal duties is creating a dangerous situation wherein terrorism, and the fear of terrorism, are undermining basic principles of international human rights law ... the erosion of international law principles is being led by some of those liberal democratic States that in the past have loudly proclaimed the importance ofhuman rights. (5)
Not comfortable readng for Bush, Blair, Brown et al. I think, however, they'll pay as much notice to Ms Rimmington and the International Panel of Jurists as they do - or did - to their electorates. That means a bit of lip service, a few words and a smile that might be a smirk revealing the contempt they feel for us.
1 - "Spy chief: We risk a police state," by Tom Whitehead, published in The Telegraph, 17th of Februatry, 2009. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/4643415/Spy-chief-We-risk-a-police-state.html)
2 - ibid, edited lightly.
3 - ibid.
4 - The report,
"Assessing Damage, Urging Action: An initiative of the International Commission of Jurists Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights," the Executive Summary and the accompanying press release are avaialble online: http://www.icj.org/news.php3?id_article=4453&lang=en
5 - "Assessing Damage, Urging Action: An initiative of the International Commission of Jurists Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights" (http://www.icj.org/IMG/EJPExecutiveSummary.pdf) from the premable to the Executive summary.
6 - ibid, page 3.

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