The British Defence Minister Dr, John Reid claims that “the legal constraints upon us, when set against an enemy which adheres to none whatsoever, but is swift to insist that we do, make life very difficult for the forces of democracy.” (1).
In fact Al Qa’ida is always elated if we break international law because when we do – as in the invasion of Iraq and the use of torture - they get more supporters, more recruits and more funding (2).
When our governments order unprovoked attacks on countries that pose no threat to us in breach of the UN Charter; order attacks on entire cities or air strikes based on suspect intelligence - inevitably killing civilians in the process; or, as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report, tacitly allow torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in breach of the 1984 Convention then we hand the terrorists a victory (3,4,5).
Changing international law to allow these kinds of acts would not make them any less wrong. Nor would Al Qa’ida gain any less from them.
If we water down the Geneva Conventions then the protections they give our troops will be weakened – putting them at greater risk if they end up as prisoners of another country’s military in future. Reid’s plan, like their presence in Iraq, needlessly endangers our troops.
British troops captured by the Iranian military in 2004 – weakening the Geneva Conventions would put our soldiers at greater risk
If we throw away rights like habeas corpus and weaken international law and the Geneva Conventions then we will have done what the terrorists can’t do - undermined democracy and the rule of law.
(1) = MoD , “Reid addresses RUSI on "20th-Century Rules, 21st-Century Conflict”, http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/DefencePolicyAndBusiness/ReidAddressesRusiOn20thcenturyRules21stcenturyConflict.htm
(2) = Guardian 16 October 2003, ‘Iraq war has swollen ranks of al-Qaida’ , http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,1063722,00.html
(3) = Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 - ‘Torture and Inhumane Treatment: A Deliberate U.S. Policy’ - http://hrw.org/wr2k6/introduction/2.htm#_Toc121910421
(4) = Amnesty International 1 Nov 2005 ‘TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT IN THE ‘WAR ON TERROR’’, http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engact400142005
(5) = Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 – ‘British Complicity with Torture’, http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engact400142005