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Thread: Why is the UK government making it harder to prosecute war crimes?

  1. #1

    Default Why is the UK government making it harder to prosecute war crimes?

    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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    Tbh, I am not a big fan of this type of prosecution. It very often boils down to charging individuals with the failings of the state. Only on a very theoretical level I can say that befehl ist befehl isn't enough of a defense. But in reality we're very often dealing with people who have done things in extremely complex and dangerous situations whose lives get utterly fucked up because we, who never left our armchairs, can tell with such perfect hindsight that they should have done things differently and better.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    Tbh, I am not a big fan of this type of prosecution. It very often boils down to charging individuals with the failings of the state. Only on a very theoretical level I can say that befehl ist befehl isn't enough of a defense. But in reality we're very often dealing with people who have done things in extremely complex and dangerous situations whose lives get utterly fucked up because we, who never left our armchairs, can tell with such perfect hindsight that they should have done things differently and better.
    The commentary in this video specifically concerns the gross abuse and outright torture of captives. Your objection is more applicable to a number of battlefield situations, but not so relevant to the abuse/torture of people who have been captured and are no longer an immediate physical threat. The govt's rhetoric has tried to conflate the two, just as the bill has, but it is unnecessary and dishonest.

    In the Baha Mousa case, of the seven soldiers who were charged, only one was found guilty, because he pled guilty to a lesser charge; the remaining six were found not guilty primarily because of lack of cooperation. It's not easy to successfully prosecute war criminals, in the UK—or, indeed, anywhere else—and this bill would, in effect, eliminate the last remaining hope of ever being able to hold these criminals accountable, let alone getting some justice for victims and/or their loved ones.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    The commentary in this video specifically concerns the gross abuse and outright torture of captives. Your objection is more applicable to a number of battlefield situations, but not so relevant to the abuse/torture of people who have been captured and are no longer an immediate physical threat. The govt's rhetoric has tried to conflate the two, just as the bill has, but it is unnecessary and dishonest.

    In the Baha Mousa case, of the seven soldiers who were charged, only one was found guilty, because he pled guilty to a lesser charge; the remaining six were found not guilty primarily because of lack of cooperation. It's not easy to successfully prosecute war criminals, in the UK—or, indeed, anywhere else—and this bill would, in effect, eliminate the last remaining hope of ever being able to hold these criminals accountable, let alone getting some justice for victims and/or their loved ones.
    This type of legislation works like a dragnet. You wind up putting people through trial who have no place in front of a judge. The world isn't a perfect and trying to legislate as if it is doesn't lead to justice for all. Unlike what people think.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    This type of legislation works like a dragnet. You wind up putting people through trial who have no place in front of a judge. The world isn't a perfect and trying to legislate as if it is doesn't lead to justice for all. Unlike what people think.
    Extremely few people have been dragged to trial over these issues, and, in every case, prosecution was legitimate. Again, these are cases of gross and deliberate abuse of captives, not things that just happened in the chaos of war. Those who personally abuse/torture captives should be prosecuted; military prosecutors and judges agree, and presumably they have some understanding of the circumstances of the people who commit these crimes. I'm honestly not sure what it is you're talking about, but it sounds very much like you're having a completely different discussion. The world isn't perfect, but it can definitely be a place where laws that prohibit the torture of captives can be enforced. Not enforcing those laws absolutely does not lead to justice for all, whereas enforcing them might lead to justice for some. We wouldn't think twice about prosecuting a cop for torturing a prisoner to death. Prosecuting a soldier for torturing a prisoner to death is no more unjust.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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    That's because of the attitude of society and prosecutors subsequently. I have no illusions in this time frame that trying to be more activist is going to lead to more fairness.

    And no, a police officer is not the same as someone sent into a war zone.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    That's because of the attitude of society and prosecutors subsequently. I have no illusions in this time frame that trying to be more activist is going to lead to more fairness.

    And no, a police officer is not the same as someone sent into a war zone.
    Again, it sounds like you're having a different conversation.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    Again, it sounds like you're having a different conversation.
    We're not. You want activism for your idea of justice, I think your desire for activism will lead to injustice.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    We're not. You want activism for your idea of justice, I think your desire for activism will lead to injustice.
    This is precisely why I think you're having a different conversation. I want the basic enforcement of the most basic laws, which is in fact the status quo and the normal operation of justice. The normal operation of justice is, in this context, unsatisfactory to me—but it is the bare minimum that must be delivered by a legitimate justice system in a modern, developed nation governed by the rule of law. Torturing a captive to death is both wrong and illegal—and has been for a very long time, even from the perspective of the military organizations within which those criminals operate. What you're endorsing is a deviation from that, which is much closer to activism. Your claim that the status quo is somehow more unjust than the radical reform you're endorsing is unsubstantiated.

    You can look at justice from different perspectives, but it's difficult to argue that any conventional perspective on justice would make it illegitimate or unjust to prosecute someone for torturing a captive to death. From the perspective of retribution, it would be just—even if they weren't convicted and punished. From the perspective of safety, it would be an imperative—by prosecuting such criminals, you reduce the likelihood of them being able to harm others in the future. From a deterrence perspective, it's a plausible means of deterring similar abuses by others—and, conversely, not prosecuting such abuses would likely encourage further such abuses, both because others would know they could engage in such abuse with impunity, and because the people we fail to prosecute will teach others to abuse victims. From the perspective of rehabilitation, without prosecuting these criminals, it will be extremely difficult to rehabilitate them—esp. if they continue their military careers. From the perspective of justice for victims and their loved ones, trying to hold their tormentors accountable is the bare minimum function the justice system must accomplish, and knowing that said tormentors will not be able to harm others in the future is an important consolation even when restoration is impossible. From a political perspective, not holding these criminals accountable undermines the credibility of the nations they serve—and of their militaries. Criminals getting a free pass is extremely corrosive to the legitimacy of any justice system, and it conflicts with the moral intuitions of most normal people; endorsing a policy to give criminals a free pass in service of a non-standard conception of justice is activism—and strange to boot.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    This is precisely why I think you're having a different conversation. I want the basic enforcement of the most basic laws, which is in fact the status quo and the normal operation of justice. The normal operation of justice is, in this context, unsatisfactory to me—but it is the bare minimum that must be delivered by a legitimate justice system in a modern, developed nation governed by the rule of law. Torturing a captive to death is both wrong and illegal—and has been for a very long time, even from the perspective of the military organizations within which those criminals operate. What you're endorsing is a deviation from that, which is much closer to activism. Your claim that the status quo is somehow more unjust than the radical reform you're endorsing is unsubstantiated.

    You can look at justice from different perspectives, but it's difficult to argue that any conventional perspective on justice would make it illegitimate or unjust to prosecute someone for torturing a captive to death. From the perspective of retribution, it would be just—even if they weren't convicted and punished. From the perspective of safety, it would be an imperative—by prosecuting such criminals, you reduce the likelihood of them being able to harm others in the future. From a deterrence perspective, it's a plausible means of deterring similar abuses by others—and, conversely, not prosecuting such abuses would likely encourage further such abuses, both because others would know they could engage in such abuse with impunity, and because the people we fail to prosecute will teach others to abuse victims. From the perspective of rehabilitation, without prosecuting these criminals, it will be extremely difficult to rehabilitate them—esp. if they continue their military careers. From the perspective of justice for victims and their loved ones, trying to hold their tormentors accountable is the bare minimum function the justice system must accomplish, and knowing that said tormentors will not be able to harm others in the future is an important consolation even when restoration is impossible. From a political perspective, not holding these criminals accountable undermines the credibility of the nations they serve—and of their militaries. Criminals getting a free pass is extremely corrosive to the legitimacy of any justice system, and it conflicts with the moral intuitions of most normal people; endorsing a policy to give criminals a free pass in service of a non-standard conception of justice is activism—and strange to boot.
    Your so-called normal is the result of new found activism.

    I'm not going to react to you point by point. But I am against interventions except for extremely rare situations where interventions serve our (selfish) interests. I'm even more against weaponizing the legal system against the poor slobs we send on useless interventions.
    Trump: Lock him up.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    Your so-called normal is the result of new found activism.

    I'm not going to react to you point by point. But I am against interventions except for extremely rare situations where interventions serve our (selfish) interests. I'm even more against weaponizing the legal system against the poor slobs we send on useless interventions.
    Again, this has no bearing on the specific legislation being discussed, which has been heavily criticized—on the basis of the specific issue highlighted in the video—by both current and former military personnel including military leadership, a group not generally known for their proclivity for "activism". As always, I have no interest in being a stand-in for someone else with whom you have some sort of unrelated beef. Your so-called "new found activism" is probably older than you are, so, unless you're feeling particularly young—or, conversely, particularly geological—today, I would say your description of the status quo is misleading.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

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