Warning: This post was published more than 12 years ago.
I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!
But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:
- My views might have changed in the 12 years since I wrote this post.
- This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
- Factual information might be outdated.
- Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.
Many thanks for your understanding.
Detention without trial is wrong.
I have yet to meet anyone who can make a convincing argument against the above statement. The right to a fair trial is a fundamental right of modern civilisation – and, for that matter, ancient civilisation too. So why, in the light of a few high profile terrorist attacks, are we denying people that right?
Don’t misunderstand me here – The terrorist attacks against America and other countries have been terrible atrocities, but terrorism isn’t new. Foreign terrorism is a fairly new concept to a young country like America, and it is a major step in the development of a nation. They must decide how to deal with such provocation, and this may well determine the future of their country as a whole. At the moment, I think they’re taking the wrong path.
The Bush administration has violated more international laws at Guantánamo Bay than I can begin to count. The very fact that the American Constitution forbids this kind of treatment on American soil should put up some red flags. They have created a situation whereby the Presidential Administration could, if they wished to abuse the system, detail whoever they wanted and torture them. Is this really the foundation the American people want for their country? Is this not the very kind of Government that they tried to eliminate in Iraq?
I am in no way accusing Mr Bush of taking this kind of action. I’m confident that he is convinced that there is a need to detain these people, and that there are valid reasons in his eyes for not giving them proper trials. But we’ve seen the danger of this kind of approach in Iraq: Mr Blair had what he saw as high quality intelligence, which he trusted and believed, on the existence of WMD in Iraq. He was wrong. What’s to say Mr Bush isn’t wrong? Isn’t the fair trial the protection against this kind of error, just as publishing full information before a vote in the House of Commons is the protection against Mr Blair’s error? Just as Mr Blair failed to publish an authoritative Iraq dossier, Mr Bush is failing to provide trials for these people, and mistakes will inevitably be made.
As for the poor prisoners themselves, I cannot even imagine being locked in solitary confinement for three years. It would be mental torture, and would leave someone with lifelong mental trauma, and would probably have a similar impact on their families. Torture is completely wrong, and has no place in a modern society. The fact that these prisoners have been tortured, and the fact that the British Government has failed to condemn torture (by admitting evidence from torture, so long as it wasn’t torture by British people) shows a deep problem in our society. Cracks of this magnitude in the very base of our society need patching up quickly, or it could lead to a serious collapse.
The news of four British detainees being released is clearly a welcome development, but we should be appalled at their detention rather than celebrating their release. How anyone expects that a society with such a loose moral grasp can ever hope to ‘spread freedom’ about the world, I just cannot begin to understand.