Not Saussure

October 12, 2006

Margaret Beckett’s Irregular Verbs

Filed under: civil liberties, UK, usa, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 4:17 pm

From the Telegraph:

Speaking as she launched the Foreign Office’s ninth annual report on human rights, Mrs Beckett defended Britain’s practice of seeking assurances from countries such as Jordan and Algeria that terror suspects deported there will not face torture on their return.

She insisted that the memorandums of understanding with regimes with a previously poor human rights record did not undermine the UK’s long-standing opposition to the use of torture.

In today’s report, Mrs Beckett warned that repressive regimes around the world were using the fight against terrorism as an excuse for tightening restrictions on the human rights of their own citizens.

But the report argued that it was a “complete fallacy” to draw a link between the “legitimate national security” measures of democratic regimes and the repressive acts of authoritarian states.

Addressing the issue of Guantanamo Bay, Mrs Beckett said: “As the Prime Minister has said, we believe that camp should close.

“The continuing detention without fair trial of prisoners is unacceptable in terms of human rights, but it is also ineffective in terms of counter-terrorism.

“It is widely argued now that the existence of the camp is as much a radicalising and destabilising influence as it is a safeguard to security.”

So that’s: We take legitimate national security measures, You’re doing things that are unacceptable in terms of human rights but we’ve got a memorandum of understanding with you, and They’re an authoritarian state behaving repressively.

Glad we got that sorted out.

Two questions: first, does the qualification that Guantanamo is not only unacceptable in terms of human rights but also ineffective mean that it would be OK if only it were effective?

And second, does this mean — as I thought it did at the time — that the USA has now officially joined Jordan and Libya on our list of pretty iffy countries to which we’ll only deport if we get assurances they’ll behave themselves once they get their paws on the prisoners?


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