Sunday, 14 August 2011

Afghani Citizens Better Protected by UK Law than UK Ones.

The UK is a signatory to the Geneva Convention. A set of conventions on the conduct of nations at war.

Specifically, for this post is the Fourth Geneva Convention and its section on Collective Punishment.

The Fourth Geneva convention prohibits the use of collective punishments by occupying forces. This is supposed to prevent actions such as perpetrated by the Nazis during WW2 where whole villages were held to account and punished due to the actions of a single individual. For instance where people were executed or incarcerated for the actions of a single resistance fighter or group of fighters. Collective punishment is specifically named as a war crime by the convention.

As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and in our de-facto role as an occupying force in Afghanistan, we are prevented from using collective punishment in that country. I know that the conventions are supposed to prevent major atrocities, but the rule still applies: you can't punish a group of people for the actions of an individual: its a war crime. Maybe not on the same scale as mass genocide, but its a crime nontheless.

You could argue that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to the Afghan conflict because its not strictly a war between two opponents, but the UK armed forces hold themselves to the standards required by the Conventions as well as the Human Rights Act. It would be a very brave lawyer that would argue against the Conventions applying in Afghanistan.

Yet back here in the UK, there is no protection against collective punishment, hence the eviction notice placed on the family of an accused (not convicted) rioter even though they had no part in the crime.

Therefore, it seems Afghan civilians have more rights in law than UK civilians.

Of course the media, baying loudly for the blood of rioters will overlook this anomaly, but those caught up in the melee won't.

God help us if any of the houses vacated by evicted families are given to immigrant families. It'll just add salt to the wounds of those that already have a grudge against the large numbers of immigrants and there'll be blood on the streets.


  1. You start off with a possible case of wrong and then fail.

    The issue of accommodation is one of contract law. IIRC, the contract allows eviction for poor community behaviour.

    And I don't quite see why a landlord should be required to continue a contract in perpetuity (rather than on just reasonable notice), for any reason whatsoever - though perhaps a government landlord should be seen to act consistently and non-frivolously.

    By calling on the Geneva Convention, you risk invalidating portions of that, in the eye of the public, in the same way as abuse of various declarations and laws relating to human rights have been brought into disrepute by their use well beyond the original intentions, in justification of anti-social behaviour, criminality and worse.

    Best regards

  2. I'm not justifying anything, merely pointing out the incongruity.

    On the one hand a section of our government is prevented in law by using collective punishment on foreign soil, but on the other hand is using collective punishment against its own people.


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