A Conversation for Torture

Cowardice

Post 1

Neugen Amoeba

Beyond the extraordinary level of cowardice exhibited by torturers, fester the sickening examples of sub-humanity that support the torturers through political means. One case that fills me with disgust is that of Augusto Pinochet and his inconvenient delay in the UK. This is a case that could have been a definite example of the apparent resolve the first world has towards the crime of torture. Yet when faced with such an opportunity, the likes of Jack Straw showed cowardice beyond measures I've previously encountered. This decision also has to be taken in the context of its timing; when NATO was bombing Serbia, killing civilians on mass, and inditing Milosevic for crimes not all too dissimilar from those of Pinochet.

It's ludicrous to try to justify such decisions on the basis of economic or political necessity. Such justifications only make sense to those who should be held ultimately accountable. My only wish is that these cowardly politicians be ultimatelly judged by history as collaborators to these crimes.


Cowardice

Post 2

Sho - unemployed again - Thanks Covid-19

But being judged by history as a coward and in the wrong is doing nothing to help the here and now. We have to punish, and be seen to punish, people such as Pinochet (I can't believe how lawyers & politicians argue how his human rights would be abused if he went to trial - tough S**T!) and Milosovic.

Although there is a word to watch: punish. Punishment and justice should not be confused with revenge.


Cowardice

Post 3

Is mise Duncan

In the mean time a bit of prevention wouldn't go amiss.
Robin Cook should start enforcing his "ethical foreign policy" stuff by preventing the ludicrous back door nonsense that allows a Birmingham (UK) company to make "handcuffs" and then have its US partner turn these into the (banned by the EU) leg irons that they were going to be all along.


Cowardice

Post 4

Martin Harper

So what you're saying is that abusing human rights is so horrendous that we should abuse the human rights of those who are accused of that?

Well, I guess it's no more hypocritical than having a death penalty for murder... *sigh*


Cowardice

Post 5

Neugen Amoeba

Yes, I'm sure poor Augusto must have been sufferring in his 5 star retreat whilst in the UK.

If you are referring to the mental torment one undergoes when put on trial, then that's tough! If a judicial system (in this case more than one) finds sufficient evidence to bring charges, the least that can be done is for those charges to be answered. These charges are not trivial and are not exactly made on a hunch. Too old or too sick does not work as an excuse. You're always responsible for your actions.


Cowardice

Post 6

Martin Harper

I'm refering to the right to a fair trial, as expressed in the UN and EU conventions on human rights.


Cowardice

Post 7

Neugen Amoeba

Where do your concerns lie? A fair trial in the UK, Spain, or Chile?

Keeping in mind that one of the pretences for his release from the UK (to return to Chile) was that charges were also being brought against him in Chile. So the rationalle expressed by the home secretary was that he was not sent back to avoid justice but rather face it in his home country.


Cowardice

Post 8

Martin Harper

My concern was that a previous poster had expressed the view that whether Pinochet got a fair trial was irrelevant. I am no expert, or even amateur, on Pinochet, but it is my opinion that human rights are not a pic-and-mix you can discard just because it happens to be inconvenient.

That's all.


Cowardice

Post 9

John the gardener says, "Free Tibet!"

I agree with Lucinda. The burden that civilized people face is that they must treat barbarians with civility too.

JTG


Cowardice

Post 10

Is mise Duncan

A phrase I heard last night that puts it succinctly: Always return a slap with a smile.


Missed

Post 11

Neugen Amoeba

It seems I haven't expressed myself well as you've missed the point I was trying to make; having a World Wide Decleration of Human Rights banning torture is pointless if you have spinless politicians who are not willing to enforce it!

*** But what about the children, cries Maud Flanders ****

The starving children of the world, as with the violation of the right to a fair trial have no bearing in this case. As I've stated earlier, it could well be argued that Pinochet is less likely to get a fair trial in Chile the he would get in Spain with the world watching.

And my dear Sho, I clearly request that the POLITICIANS be judged as collaborators and cowards (a case for which no one seems to be arguing against), not Pinochet. For this low life should bear the full (legal) consequences of his actions.

So yes, we must all be civil and humane, even when dealing with the scum of the earth, but above all we must act on the resolutions to which we have agreed.


There, my additional 2 cents....


Missed

Post 12

John the gardener says, "Free Tibet!"

To my way of thinking, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is valuable just because it gives ordinary folk, such as ourselves, something to measure the actions of politicians against. It should be viewed as a tool... or a weapon. Unfortunately, it's taken more than half a century for this declaration to gather anything like reasonable international support. That's where we come in. It's up to people like us to demand that our representatives in government don't allow policy or expediency to violate those fundamental ideals. People in out of the way places are treated like crap largely because our politicians believe, with some justification, that the majority of the people they govern don't give a damn. That's the challenge we face. There is no excuse for us to pretend that we don't know what is going on. We have the means at our fingertips to find out. How we react is a question of conscience.

JTG


Retargetting

Post 13

Neugen Amoeba

Althought I cannot claim Jack Straw as one of 'my' politicians, I did write a letter to him telling him exactly what I thought of his decision. Never got a reply.......


Retargetting

Post 14

John the gardener says, "Free Tibet!"

Don't be discouraged by that. They important thing is that at some level the idea that he may be screwing up has entered his domain. Even when the messages you send are only seen by flunkies, they influence the reports those flunkies file. A single letter isn't going to change much by itself, but an accumulation of letters bearing the same theme will eventually have a positive effect. Make sure that what you write is polite and reasonable, and bolster your arguments with specific references. A good strategy is to write to your member of Parliament (or other local representative), rather than directly to the minister in question, especially if your representative is a member of an opposition party. The idea is to create ripples within the bureaucracy by getting your ideas documented in official minutes. Good luck.

JTG


Retargetting

Post 15

Sho - unemployed again - Thanks Covid-19

My point about punishing those who had abused human rights (Pinochet, Milosevic, Stalin, Hitler etc ad infinitum) wasn't that we should abuse their human rights at all. Indeed, even people in prison should not have their human rights abused either (and I don't support the death penalty in any way, shape or form either).

My points were that: Pinochet (almost without doubt) has abused the human rights of many people in his country. At the time he was responsible for his actions, and it could be argued that he is still responsible even though he's old (my grandad is 87 and if he gets caught shoplifting, he's responsible for his actions too). He should be seen to be on trial (and I don't believe that his trial would be unfair in Chile, Spain or Britain). The whole point of trial and punishment (so we have been lead to believe) is to show that "crime doesn't pay" and to rehabilitate the offender

Regarding the chap (found guilty of murder, let us not forget) is that he is demanding rights which are not always available to everyone, even in a country such as Britain, despite the fact that many thousands suffer poverty (ok, not on a global scale, but it is poverty none the less) and do not resort to crime. Why should we consider improving his conditions before we improve theirs. To reiterate: we are all responsible for our actions.

And before I get accused of being a "charity begins at home" enthusiast: I also believe that we need to implement Robin Cook's so-called ethical foreign policy. No matter how painful to our own industries. We need to "sort our act out" before we start lecturing other countries. But (slopping out notwithstanding: which I also think should be stopped) I don't believe that the human rights of prisoners in UK are anywhere near as abused as those in other countries.

Don't stamp all over my head: I'm all for penal reform but I think we have to look at the big picture first. It's like first aid, there is a method of determining who to treat first in multiple accident according to degree and severity, and I think we have to treat the human rights issue in the same way.


Cowardice

Post 16

SRVfan

Why? (Why must civilized people ... "treat barbarians w/ civility too"? What characteristics would lead you to define someone as a "barbarian"? ...Someone who refuses, or is incapable, of recognizing the human rights of others?


Cowardice

Post 17

Martin Harper

Because if you treat someone without civility, then you are not civilized...


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