Friday, March 23, 2007

The rule of law (or not)

The whole Baha Musa case makes me furious. Not because a man was killed. Not because the Army Prosecuting Authority brought the case to Court Martial. Not because of the seriousness of the charges. (Not even because the APA have never heard of pdfs.) Not because Corporal Payne pleaded guilty to inhumane treatment. Those all make me seeth. This makes me furious.

My apologies to NotSaussure, who blogged about it here. I did try to write this posting as a comment but I had thought I had fallen foul of Wordpress but I see my comment is up now.

Some anonymous genius wrote ( :) ):
The relevant convention is the 4th Geneva convention - Bahar Musa was a civilian not a known combatant (who would have been protected under the 1st or 3rd Conventions or, if considered outwith those, should have been handed over to the civilian legal authorities.) The enabling UK law is the International Criminal Court Act 2001 and Courts Martial can try cases under civil law in accordance with Section 70 of the Army Act 1955.

Advice, from the chain of command, that conduct contrary to (any of) the Geneva Conventions is also likely to be criminal under Article 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which specifically mentions “when committed as part of a plan or policy” and this would probably fall under 8(a)(iii). If a soldier commits such an act off their own bat, it is a crime (and can be tried and punished under the Army Act) - if there is a plan to do it, it is also a war crime. We wait to see.

So, we have waited a bit. Nothing here or here. Okay.

We, the despised British public, have been told of evidence in Court that the Army chain of command approved the illegal treatment. If the Army, or the Crown Prosecution Service, will not bring Majors Robinson and Clifton into a public forum to account for the "advice" they gave, then maybe this is a matter for the ICC? Or maybe not.

You see the Battle Group is subordinate to the Brigade, who are under the command of "Multi-National Division (South East)" - with a British commander - who are under the command of the Americans. Who are responsible for this and this and are not a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

What bets that the senior legal officer who signed off on the treatment by British troops is an un-prosecutable Yank? Wouldn't give you odds, myself.


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