Magi Mike's Blog

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Patriotic Law or Fascist Law?

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Notes from the Press

Detention without trial is contrary to human rights. We should return to legal principle. Instead the government uses it as a pretext to make the country lawless. Anyone could be detained indefinitely on utterly anonymous and unchallengeable suspicions. No evidence is needed, and any evidence for the defence need not be disclosed, even when it is known!

Law is our basis of justice, even in the face of terrorism, and is nothing if it is not available to everyone equally. Imprisonment without trial cannot be an equal law. It presupposes that some people deserve to be imprisoned without any evidence being offered for scrutiny. It makes no essential difference whether it is a politician or a judge that serves the detention order.

It is back to the Inquisition when people were imprisoned for life on the say-so of personal enemies, and anyone who could benefit from someone’s imprisonment. Torture and death could not be prevented, once people are imprisoned, as we have seen at Guantanamo and Abu Graib, and our Nazi governments even allow evidence obtained by torture, albeit supposedly outside the country. But then, who will be in a position to object to any evidence obtained by torture, wherever it is obtained.

Policemen have a new duty, to be judges and prosecutors, to practise the Gestapo roles they see coming. They will claim to know who the guilty are, but only they will get to see the evidence, besides certain politicians with a fondness for jackboots. Detention without a trial is a punishment with no crime visible. Anyone subject to it will be thought a terrorist on unchallenged, undisclosed material which may have come from an informant who has reason to lie or who is seeking some benefit in return for information. The intelligence which justified the detention of some men who have spent years in prison is apparently no longer such a source of alarm. They are being released. The only thing that seems to have changed is the government’s mind. Our choice is not fascist measures or nothing. The law has plenty of options, but it needs politicians and policemen willing to use them.

People should be detained only pending a criminal charge. The mysterious and mainly invisible Al Quida trained terrorists should be dealt with the way people like them have always been dealt with, the way they were dealt with in the past. They are kept under surveillance and their properties are raided at a suitable moment, they are arrested, and subject to due process, the evidence being gathered there, and elsewhere, by scientific investigation, by proper legal interrogation of them and their contacts, and from subsequent enquiries. Suspects can be held briefly while these investigations are continuing. After 14 days, they should be charged or released. If lesser infringements have been found, they can be charged with them, and detained legally, and they can be still kept under surveillance if suspicion remains though they are released.

So, when people are suspected of terrorism, they should be investigated thoroughly and, if there is evidence, they should be put on trial. If not, but suspicion remains, they should be kept under surveillance. Instead we have a misconceived suggestion by some decent politicians that all will be well if a judge authorises the house arrest or control order. Judges might not be given all the information. Sugar-coating the unpalatable by suggesting all will be well if a judge makes the order is to forget that it may not feel significantly different if it is Judge Floggem or the Administration who issues an order if you still don’t know the nature of the allegation or the evidence on which it is based.

Blair’s and Bush’s governments have abandoned timeless principles, showing they are intrinsically fascist. The put us back to 1933 in Germany, to apartheid South Africa, and such regimes as Burma where detention without trial, even as “house arrest”, has rightly been decried. Nor does it make any difference that the powers, we are assured, will only be used exceptionally. Nazi’s like Hitler and our own neocons have no trouble in making exceptions into the norm.

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Written by mikemagee

26 April, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

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