Justice

Odd workings of Justice

In case you hadn't realised, there is a cloud over England's test matches in NZ with "allegations of sexual assault and/or rape". Except that no formal complaint has been made, therefore, sensibly, the people at the receiving end have declined to be interviewed.

Understand this, I'm not blinded by being someone who watches the game whilst living in England. If the players have done this, then they deserve to have the full force of the law come into play - however, we must remember that they are also possible targets for warrantless claims. At this stage, none of us can know the truth, nor should we comment upon where the truth may lie.

Why am I posting? Well, I do find it odd to see statements like:

"We are desperate to clear the players' names but we're in a very strange situation - with no allegations, no complaint being made - as to exactly how the name of the players can be cleared."

The names have not been published, not has a formal complaint been made. Surely the names remain clear - or has 'innocent until proven guilty' gone out of fashion in New Zealand too?

If a formal complaint or formal charge is made then there will be a name to clear - but until that point...

Guantanamo

I've been rather ill for a few days, but have been getting better. Today it's been variable - ups and downs. I'm currently in an 'up' and decided to catch up on the world. I stumbled upon this article which contains the lovely quote:

We have become overly focused on the fairness of what the government does to terrorists than the danger of what terrorists might do to us.

Hmm, rather missing the point of due process there. These people, as guilty as they may ultimately be, are still suspects - they have not been shown to be guilty. They have been locked up with the key thrown away without any recourse to law as we know it.

The article also says:

The government ought to conduct a triage and determine which detainees present no serious threat or are innocent of any charge

Yep. That's going to happen. 'Sorry we locked you up for more than seven years without trial, you're totally innocent, off you go'.

For the US Government, that's a massive lawsuit waiting to happen.

No, what'll happen is that people will be released in a drip-like fashion in such a way that the stain on their record isn't removed - but just that there was 'insufficient evidence to charge'. They'd be released on the understanding that their home countries monitor them, or take responsibility for them.

I'd be amazed if any of them ever got through US customs once released as a true innocent would (though I'd be even more amazed if they wanted to). In this way the US can save face: "We know they're bad'uns" without ever having to test that accusation with evidence.

I am not suggesting for one minute that everyone in Guantanamo is innocent. Just as I'd hope that those with the "hang 'em high" tendency would admit that not everyone in there is guilty just because they're in there.

What I'm saying, and what the article is saying, is that whilst I don't think the US will start putting its house in order anytime soon(*) natural justice demands that it does - that it takes the risks of lawsuits for wrongful incarcerations and undertakes due process. If it did wrong, as I'm sure it knows it has, then it needs to be a nice grown up superpower and put things right.

If the US is serious about reducing terrorism in the future, Guantanamo Bay should go, it's a clarion call for Al Qaeda - just as internment was for the IRA.

(*) (though Bush could conceivably do this over the summer if it looks like a democrat might have to deal with the aftermath - cynical, moi?)

Natwest Three

The Lib Dems have started a campaign about the US/UK lopsided extradition treaty. Essentially the US can extradite a UK citizen without presenting probable cause. For the innocent, this can mean a multiple year trial (as well as expensive defence) in the US. In the case of the Natwest Three, as I understand it the alleged crime would have taken place in the UK, by UK citizens against UK interests. The employers (who are the alleged victims) have not wished to press any charges. As there is a loose connection to Enron, the US want to press charges but have not presented a probable cause to the UK. If the UK want to extradite a US citizen then the same arrangements do not apply. A special relationship indeed.

This case has been on the slow burn for some time now, the esteemed Boris wrote about it back in 2004, but it's in the past few days that it has come to the fore of public awareness.

This treaty was originally presented as a bill which would aide the extradition of terror suspects (also without probable cause, but in these days the concept of evidence seems secondary when we have terror suspects) - and yet it's scope is wider than was originally spun. This is a good case in point why legislation should be tightly drawn and why 'trust us' isn't enough.

In domestic law, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is such a piece of legislation. As is the ID card bill. There are also domestic laws designed to punish contain terror 'suspects' - not convicts - which could suffer the same problem.

The bottom line here is this: why should any UK citizen be deported without a prima facae case being made by the USA?

I suppose that this is the special part of the special relationship that we keep hearing about?

Here are the other articles which Boris wrote, (I knew the Boris Plugin for Firefox would be handy!) from May 2005 and July 3rd 2006. This isn't the only case out there, there are others. My issue is not that I think there's no case to answer, I don't have anything like the information needed to make a judgement - and have no opinion on the individual cases.

My problem with all this is that these extraditions are being made to a foreign power without evidence being presented to support the allegation that there is a case to answer. There is a new business setting up to insure executives against the possibility of extradition to the US.

The fact that the treaty is not reciprocal adds insult to injury, but it isn't the main issue - if the treaty were reciprocal it would not make it right.

In parliament, the Lords have voted for a suspension until it is reciprocal, and there has been a debate in the commons - and a protest vote passed at 246 to 4. Not that this is likely to change anything.

Tony Blair has defended the treaty saying that the UK and America have "roughly analogous" grounds for extradition.

It adds a twist to the story that a potential witness has been discovered dead - that should keep people speculating wildly.


Update: Boris has posted an extract from the westminster debate.