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Question/Comment
22 May:  The article in the Daily Mail today shows that the SIAC got it wrong. One of the co condpirators is walking around quite freely in Pakistan which is the country the SIAC said would torture the guy arrested in UK if we sent him back. Wrong, wrong, wrong.    Tuppy
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30 May:  The other day I mentioned that some women chose to wear the veil voluntarily. There was a newspaper item in the Times that I saw which made the point that quite a few western women were choosing to convert to Islam and quite a lot were university graduates. So they don't sound oppressed to me.    Rob
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21 May:  Some very useful references by Aspals, but I think that the suggestion that the regional treaty does not pay heed to the international Convention might overlook the fact that the UN Convention Against Torture is an international Convention which contains a similar prohibition to that of the ECHR. There is a conflict in the legal provisions, apparently. Not being an international lawyer I don't know if the later provisions overruled the earlier ones, in much the same way as an earlier law is repealed by a subsequent law.    Roger
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You are quite right, Roger. So, all we can do is refuse asylum prior to the suspects' entry into the country, on the basis of the Refugee Convention but, once they are here, that is it. We can't get rid of them.    Aspals
20 May:  you couldnt make it up.    pete
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20 May:  If we can't kcik out of the country those who are enemies of the state then we really are stuffed - by our own stupid laws.    Tuppy
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There is a very interesting article in the Telegraph of 20th May, which makes some very good points, many of which have been discussed here. The item, by Philip Johnston, makes the added point of the position under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which is that those who commit violent crimes or crimes against humanity are excluded from its protection. See also the excellent article by Monette Zard. The problem is with the way the European Court of Human Rights has interpreted article 3 of the ECHR. The moot point is whether a regional human rights treaty can override the terms and definitions of an international UN treaty. A crime against humanity is defined in the ICC Statute as including murder and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack. Some might view the planning of terrorist attacks against the civilian population as being within this definition.    Aspals
20 May:  It seems to me that human rights is only afforded to those who reject our society's values, whether they be fanatical Muslim extremists who will never accept the ways of the decadent infidel, or the women who hide behind veils, whether voluntarily of through fear of their male family. Tolerance is the new god, but where are the boundaries? A society with no boundaries is in a state of anarchy. Is that where we are headed eventually, I wonder?    Scipio
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19 May:  So, treaties designed to protect us from cruel regimes are being turned on their heads and used to protect the non-nationals from non-Convention countries who come to this country to kill us. The additional insult is that, the courts having acknowledged how dangerous the individual is, the taxpayer now has to fund expensive surveillance and pay his dole money. Ee Aw.   Tuppy
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19 May:  on the radio today the new home secretary dodged the question about reviewing the human rights act. looks like this lots no different to the last broken promise after broken promise.    pete
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I am not sure that repeal of the 1998 Act will make any difference to the outcome of cases like the one reported yesterday. If there is a real risk of torture, then the ECHR has been interpreted as preventing defendants from being sent back to their country of origin. Without the Act they would not be able to rely upon the ECHR in their arguments before the domestic courts and would have to exhaust domestic remedies, but would still be free to take their case to the ECtHR. But that is not all. Article 3 of the UN Convention Against Torture prevents extradition of "a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture." I am not sure what the difference is between "real risk" and "substantial grounds", but the "real risk" argument is the one that holds sway in our courts. We are in a real mess and are collecting dangerous people and giving them shelter.    Aspals
18 May:  The madness of the law has taken another twist with the decision to allow the suspected terrorist to stay in UK, even though the judge reckons they are a threat to our safety. What a bonkers state to be in where the rights of a dangerous anti-social fanatic, who is a national of another country, are preferred to ours, so he can't be sent back there because they think he's dangerous too and so might want to interrogate him a little more aggressivley than we did. It's no wonder we are becoming a terrorist cess pit.    Will
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The government must have read your comment, Will, as there is to be a review of the Human Rights Act in the wake of the recent High Court decision. I have a lot of sympathy with the judge who, as we know, does not make the law he applies the existing law.    Aspals
18 May:  reply to Briony. Some do choose to hide themselves away though.    Rob
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I ahve place a link to an article in Yahoo News, which looks at the French ban on wearing the veil. The suggestion is that converts to Islam is a group to which veiling seems to appeal more than to women from Muslim families.    Aspals
18 May:  It is worrying to see that the resentment over the liberal rights given to people who choose to cut themselves off from western society - or who are forced to do so - has Started to turn into violence. The attack reported in France on a woman who, as it happened, was a Muslim convert and who chose to hide herself away behind a veil, shows how strongly some people feel about this issue and how they feel their indigenous values are being trammeled into the ground by do-gooder human rights liberals.    Thinners
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18 May:  I forgot to say that very few women would choose to voluntarily hide themselves away under a veil.    Briony
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18 May:  Rob is quite right to argue the other point of view, but I would say that the Convention doesn't guarantee freedoms without limits, which is why we often hear terms like a balancing act has to be struck between the rights of different elements of a society.    Scipio
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18 May:  To answer Rob, the issue is that there is a right for society to outlaw the wearing of certain clothing, irrespective of the wishes of the wearer, if there are sound reasons for doing it. Security and public order are two grounds that the European court has held as legitimate brakes on the rights under the Convention.    Briony
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18 May:  I don't disagree with what's been said about repression of females by making them wear a veil etc but you can look at it from the other view. What if the woman wants to wear a veil and is quite happy to? If she does then shouldn't she be free to make that choice?    Rob
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17 May:  thats a relief then to the sas that balaclavas are ok. it would have been fun to see them all arrested on their next mission to save us from real nastys.    pete
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17 May:  (sent, 16th May) The burka is in a completely different category to hoodies and balaclavas, horrible as they both are. Like has been said already, they cut off the wearer from society and the gender of the wearer cannot be ascertained. However, their most odious trait is the outward symbolisation of female repression by a patriarchal society. Even if that has some acceptance in Islamic countries, although I should say Turkey does not accept it, in a western European country supposedly influenced by a culture of human rights and freedoms, it should be publicly and audibly condemned by government and so-called human rights organisations.    Roger
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15 May:  It's not just that the kit lags behind, but there is no urgency to get it in service. It's a great way to reduce your budget spending to put off the requirement to buy something for as long as you can.    Scipio
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15 May:  so wearing a turban isnt banned. cant see that wearing a hoody is any different so long as you can see the face, which is miles different to a full face veil.    pete
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15 May:   The plea made by the widow of Sgt McAleese for MoD to undertake an equipment review is well justified. Kit like IED detectors should be constantly under review to meet the challenge of an increasingly innovative enemy. Taking months to respond to changes in enemy methods costs the lives of our valued and highly skilled soldiers.   Pegasus
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15 May:   If the ECtHR would support a ban on the wearing of a turban, which does not cover the face to any extent, on the basis of "public security and protection of public order", I see no problem with there being a ban on the wearing of a hood, which does in fact hide the face to some extent. So, a balaclava would also be susceptible. However, it all depends upon the context. The French ban on the turban wearing taxi driver was solely for the purpose of the photograph on his driving licence. The wearing of the turban in other circumstances was not banned, as there were no security issues with that. A balaclava does not completely hide the face and is great to wear on a cold day when walking in the hills, but it is inappropriate in our present state of heightened security, to be worn by adults in urban areas at night or in shops, banks etc. The burka hides the face and the head. There is absolutely no chance of identifying who it is underneath. It provides a visible barrier between the individual and the rest of society and there is a good justification for requiring its removal on the grounds of "public security and public protection".   Anthony
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14 May:  theres a big difference from wearing a face veil and wearing a hoody. what about a balacarva. you cant ban everything.    pete
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14 May:   I suggest that the interesting feature of the Shingara Mann Singh decision is that the Convention does not always guarantee the right to behave in a manner dictated by a religious belief and does not give individuals doing so the right to evade rules that have proved justified. As I understand it, the wearing of the burka is not "dictated by religious belief" at all, and so could be outlawed in the interests of security. In my view the same, of course, might be applicable to the wearing of a hooded top in certain circumstances, even though the face is not covered.   Anthony
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14 May:   There are lots of "ifs" in what Briony says. This new government won't have the guts to pass a law to stop women wearing burkas. Minority religious lobbies, all headed by men of course, will do their best to see to that.   Tess
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13 May:  I do agree with Scipio but am still worried about the broader issue of this dress actually demeaning women and oppressing them. It is absolutely unforgivable in our modern society. If our judges overruled any law banning burquas, presuming of course the government had the courage to introduce one like other European countries, they would be doing a huge disservice to women just to appease minority sensibilities.    Briony
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13 May:  thats fair then.    pete
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12 May:   The Daily Mail for yesterday carried a story that France will be targeting super rich Muslim women who wear the veil in public, to show they are not biased against poorer women, many of whom are forced to wear the veil because of pressure from authoritarian husbands.   Anthony
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11 May:  So there is no reason why our courts should not uphold a burqua ban. The argument on security grounds alone looks overwhelming, as well as the actual subjugation of women and treating them as chattels.    Briony
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10 May:   The case Tess is talking about is that of Shingara Mann Singh. The application was declared inadmissible.   Pegasus
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Thank you very much for that information, Pegasus. I have now provided the link. Readers should know that the decision is in French. However, briefly, the facts (taken from SikhiWiki) are that Mr Singh, a taxi driver and practising Sikh, wanted to obtain a duplicate copy of his licence. The picture showed him wearing a turban, so his application was refused. He took the matter through the French Administrative courts, without success, as the provisions, which sought to limit the risks of fraud or falsification of driver's license, were neither inappropriate nor disproportionate. The ECtHR held that Article 9 does not protect any act motivated or inspired by a religion or belief. Moreover, it does not always guarantee the right to behave in a manner dictated by a religious belief and does not give individuals doing so the right to evade rules that have proved justified. The Court observed that the picture of identity with "bare head" affixed to the licence, is necessary for the authorities responsible for public security and protection of public order, particularly in the context checks carried out in connection with the traffic, to identify the driver and ensure their right to drive the vehicle. Such controls are necessary for public safety within the meaning of Article 9 ยง 2.    Aspals
10 May:  The European case law is really helpful Aspals and shows that we shouldn't give up hope of the court remaining true to the principles set out in the Convention. The really interesting bit though is why our courts give additional rights to minorities that the ECHR does not require? I am thinking of the right for Sikhs to wear bangles or carry daggers to school (alarming as that might sound to a teacher of an inner city school) when the wearing of a Christian crucifix can be banned. These decisions do not look as though they follow the law. I'm afraid I can't find the reference to the French case. It might have been a news report of a domestic decision rather than an ECHR case. Sorry!   Tess
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9 May:  If the European judges reflect the societies from where they are draw eg Italy, France, Belgium etc, then there is a good chance the rulings banning this tool of male domination will be upheld. They have been quite consistent and even upheld the French requirement for a Sikh taxi driver to remove his turban to have his licence photo taken. If they follow that precedent the chances are they will agree that the full veil is unacceptable in a modern, free society where the rights of women stand equal with the rights of men.    Tess
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I tried to find the case you refer to, Tess, but haven't had much success. If you know of a case number or name, please let me know so I can link to it. However, I did find reference to the case of X v. the United Kingdom which concerned a Sikh who complained that the requirement to wear a crash helmet, which obliged him to remove his turban, whilst riding his motor cycle interfered with his freedom of religion. Even though the UK changed the regulations to allow a specific exemption for Sikhs, the Commission declared the application inadmissible and that the compulsory wearing of crash helmets was a necessary safety measure for motor cyclists. The Commission was of the opinion that any interference that there may have been with the applicant's freedom of religion was justified for the protection of health in accordance with Article 9(2). The other case I found was that of Dogru v. France, concerning a Muslim schoolgirl who from her second year of Secondary school onwards wore a headscarf to school. Her teacher explained that wearing a headscarf was incompatible with physical education classes. She was eventually expelled from the school for refusing to remove the headscarf. The Court held that the conclusion reached by the national authorities that the wearing of a veil, such as the Islamic headscarf, was incompatible with sports classes for reasons of health or safety is not unreasonable and, accordingly, there was no violation of article 9 or 10. The application was declared inadmissible.   Aspals
8 May:  France and Belgium have also either passed or are about to pass laws banning the wearing of burquas in public. But I guess there will be a challenge under the convention at some point. It's inevitable I suppose. I just hope that the male dominated European court doesn't see fit to endorse the misogynistic practices of men like the one in the news report.    Briony
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8 May:  these guys might be doing us a favour by hiding there wives faces especially if they re real mingers. i say keep em hidden.    pete
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8 May:  Aspals is one of the few places on the web where serious things are discussed. Human rights is about as serious as it gets so I'm glad that there is some leeway in this. For my part I do believe it is the right of every woman to choose what she wears. So if a woman chooses to wear a burka then that is fine, subject to qualification that she should not be driving a car or flying a plane or anything like that. I agree with Briony that the idea of some man saying that he wants to hide his wife away so that no one will look at her is just unspeakably out of date. Husbands like that are living in the middle ages. It is also not true that there is any religious requirement for women to be dressed in this way. It is good old fashioned oppression and it has no place in a civilised society.    Tess
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7 May:  I don't care what women wear in the privacy of their own home, but I do think that dress in public places is a different matter. Driving with anything that restricts vision should not be permitted, nor entry into banks, court-rooms whether to give evidence or not, and other public buildings. It should definitely not be allowed in schools, where social relationships are part of the process of learning how to communicate and relate to other members of society. Anyway, isn't this a bit off target for Aspals, which is supposed to be a site for military legal subjects?    Scipio
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Strictly speaking, you are right about the topic, although it does have a human rights element. Human rights is something we like to have discussed here. You never know, one day the wearing of burkas in the military may become an issue. If it does, perhaps it will have been discussed here, first.    Aspals
7 May:  The Australians are now calling for a burqua ban according to today's Daily Telegraph. There was an armed robbery in Sydney where one of the robbers wore this outfit to hide his/her identity. If the wearing of this repressive and humiliating form of dress is not required by the Islamic holy scriptures, which I am told by Muslim friends it isn't, then it is time that governments supporting women's rights outlawed it and ended this exclusionary and denigrating way some Muslim men try to control women. Our free society is based upon being able to see those who interact with us in public, not hiding behind masks as if there was some shame to being a woman.    Briony
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6 May:   I think the concerns Briony expresses are quite justified. It is outrageous that a man should attempt to keep his wife hostage inside their home and dominate her as if she were a chattel rather than a person, but pragmatism may eventually win the day when he realises that he is now the one to do the shopping and take the children to school.   Anthony
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5 May:  The plight of suspected terrorists should not be the only human rights problem to worry us. The story about the lady in Italy whose husband has placed her effectively in house arrest because he will not let her go out without wearing a burqua is extremely sad. The man is obviously not willing to adopt the traditions and values of the country he chose to live in with his family. In most civilised countries imprisoning someone is not just a breach of their human rights it's a crime. The man should be prosecuted by the Italians for false imprisonment and then deported back where he came from. The wearing of the burqua is a symbol of female oppression and is not required by the Koran. It's high time that this humiliation and denigration of women was stopped. Other countries have led the way and it's about time ours followed suit.    Briony
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4 May:  What's a few million pounds compensation to foreigners whose courts wouldn't give us the time of day in similar situations, when banks and sloppy politicians have run the country into the ground.   Tuppy
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4 May:  Oh dear Will, you've missed the point. The government was plainly unfair in the way it handled these cases because it didn't hand over every shred of intelligence to the plaintiffs which it should have done to allow them to see who had grassed them up. After all, how can you feel you've got justice if you don't know who the snitches are? All our trials must be open and not secret, so that everyone can hear what the nasty security services have been up to when they risk their lives to protect our country. We all have a right to know where they get the evidence from to justify arresting anyone.   Scipio
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Perhaps we should wait until after the judgment is published to see what the actual details are. The judgment, which was unanimous, probably went into quite a lot of detail. As soon as I can track a copy I will put it up on the cases page. In the meantime, if anyone has a copy perhaps you could let us see it. [Added on 7th May: there is a summary of the judgment on the Times website.]    Aspals
4 May:  The courts have finally lost the plot. They've damaged the security of our country beyond imaginaiton by their capitulation to the human rights lobby even going as far as to consider paying out thousands of pounds to people who say they were abused. Well, guess what's going to happen now, there will be a lot more people coming forward to say they were abused and manufacturing claims like they did when the Kenyians said they were killed or injured by unexploded munitions. And who pays for the judges generosity? We do of course, all the law abiding tax payers who also pay the salaries of these liberal judges.    Will
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27 April:  How about Special forces soldier reprimanded after abusing Taliban prisoner? See the Telegraph for 24 April.    Briony
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25 April:  US officer slaps prisoner, gets reprimanded. British officer slaps prisoner, dismissed with disgrace. British NCO slaps prisoner, dismissed. Which country has a sense of perspective in all of this I wonder?   Tuppy
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25 April (sent 24th):  Perhaps, in these difficutl times for people looking for work, she wanted a job to clothe and feed her child and that's why she applied to the army.    Briony
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22 April:  The point I'm making Briony is that she knew what the army does for a living. It isn't like going to work for Marks and Spencer where there might be child care and other nice little incentives to get mums to work. The army is about fighting and killing, with huge amounts of time spent away from base on training and exercise. So it beats me why would anyone unmarried and with a small child think that they could cope if they didn't have the support of someone else eg family?    Thinners
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21 April:  Pete makes a good point. You can't trust any of them. The tories recruiting general Dannat was a clever move, but he may find that they betray him by introducing more cuts to the services that he loves and defended so valiantly when he served.    Will
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21 April:  I suggest that what it shows is that the army pays lip service to equality. Why invite women like Tilern to join if they are not going to make obvious allowances for someone of her single parent status?    Briony
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20 April:  does anyone think that a tory government will be better for the services. i dont. it was the tories that cut the army by mor ethan 40000 back in the 90s under the so called peace dividend. what a peaceful time we ve had since.    pete
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20 April:  What it shows is that the army has gone mad with political correctness. How does any modern, efficient fighting force come to recruiting single parents into its ranks when we are in the middle of a war? She should never have been recruited, wherever she came from. This case also shows just how bonkers our legal system has become when you get judges saying there was racial discrimination, presumably on the grounds that she couldn't have her sister brought into the country to do the child minding.    Thinners
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18 April:  So the peoples choice for leader of the next government is Nick Clegg. Hardly surprising really. Having watched the debate I thought that Cameron was very wet, especially when Brown gifted him the opportunity to really show Labour - and Brown - for the liars they are. Brown said more than once that he gave the military everything they needed. We know that's a lie, yet Cameron never mentioned the views of the former chiefs of defence who said the opposite. Cameron could have asked the audience who they believed. That would have destroyed Brown and also taken some of the spotlight off new-boy Clegg who did much better on the TV debate than he ever does in the Commons.    Will
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18 April:  I think the point, Briony/Tess, is that she complained about problems with child care while we heard from the tribunal decision that she was applying for jobs in Afganistan. Where would she have found child care out there? I was disgusted by the case and by the remarks of the court that said the government should have relaxed immigration rules to let her sister come into the country to look after the kid. These people really crack me up.    Thinners
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17 April:  Thinners may have missed the point here which is that the army recruited this lady in the knowledge of her circumstances and yet, when the very foreseeable happened, decided to punish her for doing what any mother would have done in her place.   Briony
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17 April:  It s a bit unfair of the army to recruit a woman like Tilern and then claim that tending to a sick child was a puunishable disciplinary matter. Surely, if a soldier is a single parent it is pretty obvious that sometimes the child may fall ill and require parental care, irrespective of whether childcare is in place or not.    Tess
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16 April:  Query or Comment: The army sepnds years making itself politically correct by opening its doors to commonwealth soldiers and to single parent families, but it doesn't take long before it gets taken to the cleaners because it doens't create enough exceptions for women soldiers who can't put their jobs first. After all, that's what soldiering is about and that's why there is the x factor to compensate for all the messing about we get, plus the fact that soldiers are paid 7 days a week 365 days a year. So they are supposed to be ready to go when required, not when they feel like it.
You can bet that there will be loads of others now wanting to cash in and asking for massive compensation as they were all brilliant soldieers and would have had careers until they were 55 and reached the rank of general. If the armys got any sense, it won't recruit people who can't dedicate themselves to the job. What would she have done, I wonder, if she had been deployed?.    Thinners
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I'm pleased to see the Board active again. I wondered whether someone might comment on this case. The Times carried an interesting article on the matter, on April 14 which is worth reading. I say no more.   Aspals
28 March:  It's official. It's the end of the special relationship. Can't say I ever noticed anything special about our relations with the americans specially since Obama came to power with that silly woman whose his foreign secretary.    Thinners
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23 March:  brilliant idea to sack 500 soldiers when your fighting a war.    pete
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18 March:  Well said Briony.    Will
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17 March:  It is very reassuring to read that there is at least one British Army officer whose integrity shone like a beacon through all the ghastliness of what went on in Iraq over the treatment of prisoners. Colonel Mercer is a credit to the British Army. If only there were more like him who were not afraid to speak out, instead of the cowards of the unit who covered up what went on in their interrogation centre under the misguided notion of regimental allegiance. As if their is anything honourable about covering up the killing of someone in your care. It is disgusting. I just hope that the event haunts them for the rest of their days. They don't deserve to wear the same uniform as Colonel Mercer.   Briony
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17 March:  by the way the lady captain would have got loads of dignity and respect from me. i'd stay well clear.   pete
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17 March:  the goo d colonel gets my vote. good on yer sir.    pete
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17 March:  The Turks are now threatening to deport 100,000 Armenians 'cos they're unhappy about being accused of being so nasty to them. It just shows that everyone was right in what they thought about the Turks treatment of Armenians in the first place.    David
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Deportation or forcible transfer of population is a Crime Against Humanity, in accordance with article 7 of the Rome Statute, as is "Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender ..., or other grounds....". However, Turkey is not a party to the Rome Statute.   Aspals
17 March:  It looks like Colonel Mercer faced an up hill struggle to get others in the army to agree that what they were doing to prisoners in Iraq was wrong. It is very worrying that even the attorney general couldn't see the dangers. Where was Colonel Mercer when the medals were being handed out? He must have been a thorn in the side of the army command, so he's off the Christmas Card list. I say well done to him.    Thinners
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17 March:  I was at the Inquiry yesterday when Colonel Mercer gave his evidence. He was very eager to tell his story and if there had been more time available I'm sure he would have had more to say. If only half of what he said is true, then heads should roll in the army. I beleived him completely. I thought the man was honourable and gave good advice, even at the risk of popularity. I still don't know how someone can get beaten to death and no one in the unit knows about it, not the adjutant, not the orderly officer, the RSM or the CO. What sort of an army do we have?   Scipio
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16 March:  Dignity and respect works both ways. The US lady captain could have done with a bit more of these qualities.   Tuppy
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14 March:  I am not suggesting that women should not be treated with dignity, just that basic biology means that trouble is stored up when you have healthy men and women couped up together for long periods of time. I must say taht I thought the article in today's Telegraph showed the other side of the coin - ruthless females in the navy.   Scipio
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13 March:  just three words for scipio. dignity and respect.    pete
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13 March:  What century is Scipio living in? Whether PC may re-engineer basic biology or not does not lessen the need to behave in a civilised and discplined way. It is what's expected of every service person. I bet Scipio's in the army.    Tess
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13 March:  Sorry Scipio you've lost the plot mate. Girls on ships or aircraft is a fact of life. There aren't enough blokes anyway. But that doesn't mean they are fair game for any over sexed buully to lay his hands on.    Thinners
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13 March:  The news report about sexual assaults on female sailors in the Australian navy shows how explosive it is to put young women on board ships that spend long times at sea with healthy young men who, understandably, focus on these girls. Political correctness can't re engineer basic biological instincts.    Scipio
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13 March:  i havent seen any military court decisions. i looked on the web but found nothing apart from the older cases you report.    pete
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There is the recent case of Earle. But I have to agree that finding resources is something of a black art. Access to court-martial decisions should be more open.    Aspals
13 March:  When you ssee who made up the court you can see why the decision went the way it did. Malta, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, Moldova, and Montenegro are well known for their peace enforcement involvement, not. It looks like the court was stacked in that way to present a particular view. If you've got judges who've never served in the armed forces or, if they have, who've never faced the challenges of active soldiering, you can't really expect them to understand the pressures of soldiering. It's an alien world to them.    Thinners
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13 March:  (sent, 12th)  I agree with Anthony that the decision of the European Human Rights court may be at odds with other decisions, but the point is that the soldiers were in UK custody and so the Human Rights convention applied. Our own domestic case law supports that view (see Al Skeini for example).All the same, I do understand the point made about the uniqueness of this case and can see that even the UK judge was troubled by the decision of his colleagues.    Briony
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11 March:   The latest decision of the ECtHR in the case of Al-Saadoon has dealt a severe blow to the conduct of peace keeping operations, as it places an intolerable burden on our troops by conferring ECHR rights even when a person is detained at the behest of the host nation, in respect of which the UK is a sending state. The president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said, at a conference on the future of European Court of Human Rights in Interlaken, Switzerland on February 18 and 19, that Member states have demanded that candidate judges of ECHR should be more qualified people. Well aye to that! Apart form Sir Nicholas Bratza, the UK judge, the rest came from Malta, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, Moldova, and Montenegro. It was an unfortunate choice as these nations do not have any real experience in international military operational matters; certainly not on the scale of the UK. Yet they formed the majority within the court. It was very interesting that Sir Nicholas Bratza dissented on the key question (bearing in mind that the UN mandate expired and, with it, any lawful authority for holding the 2 suspected killers) and relied on the reasoning of the Court of Appeal. It was the unanimous view of the Court of Appeal that after 31 December 2008, the United Kingdom was entirely legally powerless to take action other than in compliance with the wishes of the Iraqi High Tribunal or to resist any action taken by the Iraqi authorities eg to walk in and physically seize the 2 men. The court seems to have overlooked the fact that UK forces were not at the material time an occupying power. They also signally failed to refer to the authority of the UN mandate and the provisions of articles 25 and 103 of the UN Charter, or to the decision of the Grand Chamber in Behrami and Saramati. The absurdities that the decision will lead to must be rectified as soon as possible by an appeal to the Grand Chamber.   Anthony
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11 March:  (posted 10th) Judging by the paucity of court martial cases there can't be much work for the military prosecutors. Maybe they're running out of work? Are they prosecuting anyone?   Tuppy
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I should point out Tuppy that the SPA is still very much in existence and has, only this week, moved its UK premises from RAF Uxbridge to RAF Northolt. This relocation programme was one that I initiated about 4 years ago, as I was concerned that the Tri-Service Prosecuting Authority would be located too far away from Uxbridge, with the result that we would have lost all our experienced staff and the nascent organisation would have been paralysed before it had a chance to establish itself. Northolt was the best option and, with the support of the Armed Forces Bill Team and the Station Commander of RAF Uxbridge, we secured RAF Northolt as the home of the SPA. You will also find reference to the case of Earle which is the most recent case to be reported.    Aspals
8 March:  the obama clinton show is trying to stop the bill - sorry about the pun - criticising the turks over the armenian genocide. their warped view of history and international law shows how theyre prepared to deal with anyone if it serves us interests. what a bunch.    pete
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8 March:  The Times has a story today about the possibility of a new inquiry into torture claims against our troops. Let us hope that this time there is a proper investigation by professional policemen and that if there is sufficient evidence any prosecution will be in the crown court and not the court martial. After the Baha Mousa trial there is no likelihood of justice for victims if the case is heard there. The proceedings were not impartial and that is what is needed. In fact, the suitability of courts martial trying serious cases like this is questionable. They should stick to trying disciplinary offences and leave real crime to the crown court. Likewise, the CPS should be making the evidential assessments. The whole system is an anachronism and has run its course.    Tess
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6 March:  Turkey never admits it does wrong. They must have got a bit of a shock the US criticised them in the way they did, but typical for them to retaliate by making threats. The reality is they need US to keep the military going.    David
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6 March:  I don't think there's anybody in the country who believes Mr Brown's evidence to Chilcot about the funding of the services. Lord Boyd accused him of being disingenuous which of course is a polite way of calling him a liar. Like Briony said, he is probably denying everything because he can't face the consequences of admitting what he failed to do and realising that young people died in the name of this country in wars his government sent them to without proper equipment and funding.
On a different matter, the news item about Turkey getting angry with the US over the genocide accusation hasn't been commented on by anyone. But I thought Turkey's reaction was so typical that it is no wonder they don't have popular support for EU membership. What they did to the Armenians in 1915 was directed at them because of their race and faith. In those days, Russia, France and Britain protested at the poor way Turkey treated the Christians and Jews in its empire. More than 30 years later, Germany had the good grace to acknowledge the barbarism of the Hitler years and since has even enacted laws that make it a crime to denounce the holocaust. Turkey might find a useful lesson there, instead of maintaining its stubborn refusal to acknowledge the terrible crimes it committed against Armenians, and then look to reconciliation. Instead, they have reacted with predictable breast beating and threats. With an uncompromising and cynical attitude like that they sound admirable candidates for EU membership! For an interesting account of the history, see Wikipedia.
The definition of genocide is to be found in the UN Convention of 1948. Article II says: "genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." Looking at that definition and the circumstances of what happened, sounds like the case is made out. If it isn't to be classed as genocide, then the case at the ICTY against Mr Radovan Karadzic for the Srebrenica genocide is doomed.    Anthony
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6 March:  Re what Tess said, if judges make the sort of decisions like this, we don't want them in the civilian system. I vote we keep the military system.    Tuppy
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6 March:  broon has completely lost the plot.    pete
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6 March:  It must be very painful for the families of dead and injured soldiers to hear the sort of excuses and downright lies spoken by Mr Bown and Mr Blair. I never thought I would say it, but Mr Brown's performance yesterday was even worse than Mr Blair's. Perhaps his denials are his way of dealing with what would otherwise be the terrible burden of guilt for those who have lost their lives or been injured through the shortaflls in funding made during the time he was at the treasury and then as prime minister.   Briony
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6 March:  It is absolutely clear from today's press that Gordon Brown lives in cloud cuckoo land. Who does he think people are going to believe, him or the very senior people saying the opposite to what he does. Even now that he's been caught lying, he still carries on his denials. Either he thinks we are stupid and will believe him or he's gone mad and really thinks he is right.    Will
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6 March:  The AWOL/desertion comments made by Aspals were quite interesting. So, the judges decided not to uphold desertion charges but to sentence for the lesser offence of AWOL on the same basis as if the defendant had deserted? Or do they sentence desertion on the same basis as AWOL? Putting it into Criminal Justice context, its a bit like judges saying they will not convict on s.18 gbh offences (with intent) but on the lesser s.20 offence, but will still sentence as if the offence was a s.18. Or will sentence as if the s.18 offence was a s.20 offence (even where intent is shown)? It sounds bonkers to me but then again, I think the whole military system is bonkers and the sooner it is done away with the better.    Tess
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5 March:   The Prime Minister's much loved Baldrick defence was relied on again today, this time when he gave evidence to Chilcott. In spite of what his own colleagues said (remember Hoon's testimony) and the searing attack by the Defence Chiefs, most recently that of Lord Guthrie, the PM still believes he provided everything the services wanted and if they didn't get what they wanted well, that was their fault because " every requirement made to us by military commanders was answered; no request was ever turned down". (Of course, what he didn't say was how long it took to approve those requests). Well, if the Labour PM says that is what happened then the Defence Chiefs, Geoff Hoon, Sir Kevin Tebbit and the rest are plainly confused. They clearly misheard Mr Brown's "Yes" as "No". You just can't trust these people to get it right, can you? Now we know that the real fault for the deaths of our soldiers through kit shortages was actually down to the defence chiefs who, as we remember, were not just deploying troops to comply with government (and US) foreign policy, but were actually prevented from ordering equipment prior to the Iraq invasion lest we gave the game away that we were preparing for war. Of course, they were kept short of cash to buy proper kit. It is the clearest case of criminal negligence by the government that did cost the lives of our troops. Inadequate supply of body armour, use of snatch LR, shortage of helicopters, troops buying their own kit in order to deploy (my son-in-law had to purchase his own body armour, desert boots and other bits of kit. Thankfully, he returned safely). What a shameful breach of trust by government. Whither the military covenant. Mr Brown's ship has been holed below the waterline. Perhaps the next election may bring him to account. "Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!".  Anthony
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5 March:   I hope now you will print my comment on the deserter sentenced recently. I remember at the time I was working as a G1 staff officer that the appointment of a civilian prosecutor was something that was not welcomed by all the three services, although the MoD thought it would be a good idea. It might have worked out better if at least they chose someone with previous military service who at least knew what the term discipline meant. The offence of desertion is a very serious one in the eyes of the army, but if you are a civilian prosecutor you might not really appreciate that. This soldier was away for two years. Just applying a bit of common sense would tell you that he wasn't coming back. He chose to run away from his duty in Afghanistan. That was a really serious offence. It isn't up to soldiers to make the policy for government and to choose whether to fight. They have to do the bidding of our political leaders. I'm afraid it comes with the job. If they don't like it then don't join up. Simple. The case was obviously highly sensitive and the new prosecutor backed away from a fight to take a plea to a lesser offence. The only loser in all of this is army discipline. What's the point of having an offence to cover these serious circumstances if you don't use it?   Pegasus
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I agree with your comments about the offence of desertion. Unfortunately, the background to the current charging regime goes back to the Judge Advocate General and his colleagues who felt that, save in the clearest cases where an intention to desert can be unequivocally established, there is no point in charging desertion as any conviction will be for AWOL and, in terms of sentence, there is no difference! He was not prepared to follow the Court of Appeal decision in Mahoney . He did say, however, that desertion should only ever be charged where the accused left his unit when warned for an operational deployment (which was the case here, as I understand it). I pointed out to him that in my view, that approach overlooked the stigma which attaches to desertion (now section 8 of the AFA 2006) and the fact that, under section 17 of the Army Act 1955 and Air Force Act 1955, (now section 330(2) of the AFA 2006) there was forfeiture of service as a consequence. So, a finding of guilt on a desertion charge really did make a difference to sentence, even if the time spent in custody as a sentence is no greater than for an AWOL charge: the forfeiture of service and the stigma of being branded a deserter were very serious consequences. Of course, it is always tempting for prosecutors to go for the easy conviction, but in these types of case the more fearless prosecutors face an uphill task against not just their defence opponent but also the trial judge advocate (who follows JAG's policy). It like judges deciding how the prosecution shall proceed.    Aspals
4 March:  If the US are playing some silly game with us over the Falklands I hope they come to their senses soon. Behaving the way they are will lead to the possibility of more unnecessary bloodshed and loss of young lives on both sides. If the US stance is as suggested a sort of payback, it shows that judges should be more careful in their decisions when there are dangerous political consequences. Whether that is true I don't know, but more bloodshed must be avoided.    Thinners
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4 March:  Lord Neuberger must have had access to other information before making his extensive criticism of the security people. He is Master of the Rolls after all and one would expect he knows what he is doing - and saying.    Briony
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You may well be right, Briony, but the newspaper reports I have read all seem to indicate that the extent of MI5 involvement, if I can use the word so loosely, was that they were aware Mohamed had been tortured in Pakistan by the Americans. I have not read that MI5 are accused of actual torture or being present while he was tortured. The appendix to the judgment said "Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could easily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of BM by the United States authorities." (My emphasis) What I also found a little troubling was the comment by Sir Anthony May that "in principle, a real risk of serious damage to national security, of whatever degree, should not automatically trump a public interest in open justice". (My emphasis) Perhaps the man in the street might have a different view. It is cases like these where the law seems to start disappearing into the clouds.    Aspals
4 March:  Harriet and her fellow conspirators really do live in a fantasy world where they believe that because they say something then it must be true. It doesnt matter how much the press, or families of squaddies, or senior generals go on about the state of the armed forces, they continue to pile on the commitments for our troops while cutting equipment spending and reducing manpower. If we defend the Falklands I hope she knows that to get what's left of our army there we need a navy and an air force with boats to sail and planes to fly. Can any one remember what life was like before Labour fantasy?    Rob
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4 March:  Mrs Clinton is showing her superb skills in foreign diplomacy during the current problem with Argentina. Instead of calming things down, she is actually stoking the Argentine fire. After all, "ownership" of the Falklands was decisively settled back in 1982. Perhaps Mrs Clinton forgot about that. In any case she needs to be more aware of the consequences of careless talk. Wasn't it such a case that led to the first Iraq war?    Tuppy
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3 March:   As Argentina ups the ante on the Falklands, our heroine of the moment, Harriet Harman, tells us that the islands will be defended. I would like to ask her, with what, Ms Harman? At a time when we need more troops in Afghanistan, and the government which she belongs to is introducing defence cuts to get the nation out of the hole the bankers got us into, I can't see how she hopes to pull this one off. The Argies have timed their protests well. Of course, the yanks may be paying us back for the court of appeal's bad decision to slag off MI5 and trash the control principle but as we are the major player after the US in Afghanistan, we may well have to pull out our forces from there to send them down to the Falklands. So, Mrs Clinton before you take this game too far, stop and think about the consequences. If we do have to pull out or reduce troop numbers, who will replace UK soldiers in Afghanistan doing the dirty jobs that none of the other EU nations want to do? Yep you're right. It will be down to the US to back fill.   Pegasus
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3 March:  The arrest of Mr Ayeup me duck Ganic is a lovely example of how daft consequences result from all the do gooding legislation in the human rights and law of war fields. Funny though that no one has been after Mr Blair's arrest, or Jack Straw or Gordon Broon.    Rob
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