Friday 03 April 2015.
Dear Mr Cameron,
In a report by the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange called “Clearing the Fog of Law” the authors state the following: “The British armed forces should not be above the law. But which law? The ever-expanding reach of the ECHR is now supplanting far more practical laws of war – the current Geneva Conventions and later Protocols under which our forces have fought since 1949.
By contrast, the ECHR – which is partly incorporated into British domestic law under the Human Rights Act 1998 – is designed for conditions of peace in post-war Europe. It is a wholly impracticable code for regulating the conduct of the British military in violent combat scenarios. What place do peacetime concepts of “proportionality” have on the battlefield?”
So what we have, it seems, is one set of rules designed for war and another set of rules designed for peace and the two are seemingly getting their knickers in a legal twist much to the chagrin of Policy Exchange, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. Policy Exchange recommend that the government should use article 15 of the ECHR to exempt armed forces from the constraints of the ECHR and to strengthen the Geneva Conventions for the conditions of modern warfare.
Chris Grayling, however, says, “We can’t go on with a situation where our boys are hamstrung by human rights laws. I made it clear last year that I want to rip up Labour’s Human Rights Act and that it is only the Conservatives who will make real changes to the human rights framework to restore some common sense.”
Let’s apply some common sense here. Fallon claims that ‘legal claims such as those emerging from the Iraq War had undermined the military’s work and had cost the taxpayer millions of pounds’ and calls for an end of the “abuse” of the Human Rights Act, disregarding the issue that the invasion of Iraq was an act of aggression without provocation. Under those circumstances the people of Iraq have a right to prosecute the aggressors by any means available because they have not engaged in acts of war against the UK or the USA but are the victims of an illegal invasion.
Before anyone tears up the rule book we need to look at who is breaking the rules. If, as Grayling says, ‘our boys are hamstrung by human rights laws’, that is a matter so serious as to cause the very heavens to pause. Human rights laws exist to protect life, if an aggressor threatens to tear up the rule book then that in itself is a crime against humanity. The only people calling for the end of human rights law are those who are routinely abusing them for self serving reasons and no prizes for guessing who they are. Here’s a common sense rule of thumb to be applied at all times and under all circumstances – Never Trust a Tory!