Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Policy Undercurrents and Sentencing Madness

Many things are crawling out of the woodwork in the aftermath of last week's riots.

First, lets look at the case of the two guys jailed for four years for inciting a riot. This was a couple of guys who put up messages on facebook supposedly "organising" a riot in Northwich. That no-one unsuprisingly attended. In Northwich of all places. If any of you have been to Northwich, the chances of anything happening there let alone a riot are so slim its ludicrous to suggest that they did it for anything other than a joke.

But they got four years: a custodial sentence that has yet to be matched or served by the majority of the people that actually physically attended a riot, caused criminal damage or looted.

Where is the sense in that?

Why are people using social media being punished so disproportionately?

Do the government want more riots? Because that's what they'll have if the lenient sentencing continues. The rioter and looters will risk-assess the situation and realise that a few hours community service is well worth the price of a 50 inch HD LCD TV.

Those that rioted on the first couple of nights and got away scott free certainly will.

Does the government want more control of the internet and especially social media and blogging sites? By their words over the past few days, absolutely. They want to curtail the rights and freedoms of every one of us  on the internet that speaks out in opposition to them and their political chums, especially those in the EU.

Which neatly brings me onto curfews, which is something else  the political elite are clamouring for. Take the scum off the streets eh? But curfews will not be specific, they can't be. Everyone thinks they're good ideas as long as they don't apply to them. Tough, we'll have to have blanket curfews in certain areas in order to make it work. Everyone will love a curfew right up until they're not allowed out of their front door. But by then the damage will be done, the law will be on the statute books and the Police will have the power to keep you kettled in your own home.

Internet censorship, curfews, political parties so close together you might as well call it a one-party state.

Just how much evidence do the public need before they realise the authoritarian state we are creating? Probably not before its too late, because the sick thing is they're the ones calling for it.

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.