This entry was posted on
Monday, March 13th, 2006 at
9:40 am and is filed
under The War on Stupid.
Scotsman – Taking prisoners to the edge of drowning ‘not torture’ says FO (Sat 11 Mar): Forcing a prisoner’s head under water until they believe they are drowning does not necessarily constitute torture or abusive treatment, the Foreign Office has said. The equivocal statement has fuelled suspicions that Britain is turning a blind eye to practices by its allies that many international lawyers believe are illegal.
Here’s that question and answer in full:
Nicholas Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam, LDem)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the infliction of simulated drowning falls within the definition of torture or cruel and inhumane treatment used by the Government for the purposes of international law.
Ian Pearson (Minister of State (Trade), Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
Whether the conduct described constitutes torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment for the purposes of the UN Convention Against Torture would depend on all the circumstances of the case.
On Sunday, the Mail provided this follow-up: In a slippery attempt to avoid responsibility, the Minister’s statement is now being blamed on the civil servant who drafted it. It is better news that we are promised ‘clarification’ of Mr Pearson’s answer.
Even if this version of events is true, you have to ask yourself what kind of culture would breed a civil servant who considers “Well, it depends…” to be an acceptable answer.
*cough* Jo Moore *cough*
Perhaps this is a question best directed at Ian Pearson. The answer passed through his hands, and he saw nothing wrong with it at the time. Why?
Does he actually believe that sometimes it’s acceptable to (ahem) place a certain level of urgency on questions?
Or perhaps – to enrich the debate – this question could be asked of Charles Clarke. He seems to believe that sometimes it’s acceptable not to place any level of urgency on certain questions…
Rachel North – This is an insult: He didn’t actually say ‘ you lucky people”, Dad said, but that was the inference. Dad was pleased that he could finally ask his M.P, Charles Clarke, the question he has been keen to ask for some months. Dad waited eagerly to ask his question; he had already written to Clarke in December 2005 with his question. But Clarke had not replied. Dad was therefore very keen to be part of what was advertised in the meeting notes as ”30 minutes of reflection” after Clarke spoke. (In these meetings, ”30 minutes of reflection” means ”30 minutes of debate”. But it a clergy meeting, so they all ”reflect”, rather than shout and argue. It’s more dignified and godly, see.) Unusually, according to Dad, on this occasion there was not a debate and questions from the floor, as is usual with these meetings at which Clarke was the special guest today: there were instead only 3 questions which Clarke answered at length, the questions seemed to Dad to be pre-prepared to give Clarke an opportunity to talk about things like prisons and police in a self-congratulatory way. Dad was not able to ask his question, the last question finished and it was announced that there would be Eucharist in 2 minutes. Dad was very angry that ”the Eucharist was being used as a filibuster.” And still he had not had a chance to ask the question that was by now burning him up inside. It was time to break bread together; people began to leave the room. My father tells me he at this point left his seat and strode up to Clarke, because he wanted to ask his question, and he said, ”Congratulations on fixing the meeting so that nobody can ask questions! You will have heard about Rev Julie Nicholson who is so angry she cannot forgive the bombers who killed her daughter on 7th July , well, I have a question, my daughter was feet away from the 7/7 Kings Cross bomb, and she and some other survivors have said they are not angry with the bombers, but with the Government, because there was no public enquiry. Why is there no public enquiry?” Charles Clarke looked at my father ”in a very nasty way”, and then he said to my father; ”Get away from me, I will not be insulted by you, this is an insult.”
Yet more evidence of the vast moral emptiness at the heart of Neo Labour. Charming, to the last.