Monday, September 12, 2011

Under Every Stone: Britain ’s shameful record of abuse

Lesley Docksey, uruknet.info, Sept. 11, 2011 
 
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‘Strike him so that he may feel that he is dying.’

-----Caligula, Emperor of Rome


How many times does a practice have to be publicly outlawed before people stop pretending they didn’t know it was wrong? Suppose someone in a position of authority was being tried for murder. Would any court accept the excuse that he didn’t know it was illegal to kill someone? Yet this is precisely what has happened in the case of the British armed forces using illegal interrogation techniques.

The techniques (hooding, stress positions, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation and food and drink deprivation) were banned under the Geneva conventions; by the UK parliament in 1972; again by the UK signing the Convention Against Torture (1987), and yet again when the Human Rights Act became part of UK domestic law (1998). Evidence at the Baha Mousa Inquiry showed the techniques were still being taught to troops in the 1980s and in 2002. Attempts to stop the practice of hooding were countermanded by directives from ‘higher up the chain of command’. In April 2003 hooding and other practices were banned by Lt General Brims, seen to be still in use in July 2003, clearly in use in September 2003 when Baha Mousa died, banned again by Lt Gen Sir John Reith in October 2003, and in May 2004 the order banning hooding was extended to other theatres in which UK forces were operating.

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