Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Boris Johnson calls for 'guilty until proven innocent' for suspected terrorists, he is one of the most dangerous men in British politics, playing the race card for a return to Westminster politics is rather crude and it is gesture politics to whip up the mob, we cannot allow our civil liberties to be destroyed

Dear All

Recently the US journalist James Foley was brutally murdered, beheaded by a ‘British’ jihadist who has been dubbed ‘jihadi John’. The killer isn’t a soldier; he is a recreational killer who has gone aboard to join the terrorist group Isis.

About a month ago, I was at a BBC indy debate in Paisley and was asked by Gordon Brewer my views on military action in Iraq and whether I would support airstrikes. Without hesitation I said that I would support targeted airstrikes but more than that the allies needed to return to Iraq to stablise the region.

A few days later Prime Minister David Cameron gave an interview saying Isis represented a threat to British National Security; about a week later President Obama was to announce 300 advisers to be sent to Iraq to assist the government. The current Iraqi government need more than advisers; the West pulled out of Iraq too soon without leave a society in which politics was properly established as the forum for settling grievances and disputes.

‘Jihadi John’ has done a despicable thing, if he returns to Britain; he could find himself shipped off to the United States of America to stand trial. The family of US journalist James Foley rightly deserve to see justice done. What happened to James Foley certainly should make people question why they oppose the return of death penalty. I don’t support the death penalty, I never will but as I write this, I think of what happened to James and it certainly tests my resolve.

I think of injustices of what could happen to someone innocent and it realise there must never be a retreat from our values.

The effect of the murder of James Foley has caused a debate with the mainstream political parties over what measures should be taken over ‘British’ jihadists who go to war zones, as I say, I view these people as recreational killers.

On Twitter, I had an exchange with Ukip supporters who seem keen to strip ‘British’ jihadists of their citizenship. Such a move is illegal; you cannot strip someone of their citizenship and make them stateless. If a law was passed in Britain, it is highly doubtful it could pass the test of legality at the UK Supreme Court or European Court of Human Rights.

Boris Johnson is currently the Mayor of London. Johnson has been in politics a rather long time; he is very clever but likes to hide behind a mask of being a jovial buffoon.

He is also one of the most dangerous politicians in Britain.

Johnson has called for the ‘British’ jihadist who killed James Foley to be killed in a ‘bunker busting’ bomb attack. It all sounds rather dramatic but is probably not practical unless you have a confirmed location, which is doubtful. As the terrorist ‘Jihadi John’ is in a warzone, he takes his chances and is a legitimate target, few will regret hearing of his death.

What is of concern to many people is that Boris Johnson wants Britons ‘fighting’ in Iraq and Syria to be stripped of their citizenship. In effect he wants a presumption of guilty until proven innocent.

Under his idea for new laws, a person is deemed to be a terrorist if they visit Iraq and Syria. The ‘get out of jail free’ option is to previously declare to authorities in advance. In Criminal trials, the burden of proof rightly rests on the State; this is to prevent injustices occurring. Under Johnson’s big idea, being the wrong place at the wrong time even although you are innocent makes you a terrorist. That is fundamentally wrong both morally and in law, it makes you to be deemed to be a legitimate target of war without due process and is probably a violation of the Geneva Convention. In war, civilians are designated as non combatants and therefore should be protected under the Convention. The rules are quite clear on this subject and not open to personal interpretation by UK armed forces personnel who operate to the highest standards.    

Boris Johnson who wants to return to Parliament said Britain must take on ISIS and ‘try to close it down now’, warning that doing nothing would mean a ‘tide of terror will eventually lap at our own front door’. In case Johnson missed it, it is already here, and has been for sometime.

The mainstream parties introduced multiculturalism without realising the impact that it would have. The Labour Party under Tony Blair went further by allowing uncontrolled immigration as a social engineering experiment. The lie sold to the British people was that this was done under the cover of economic development. Ed Miliband has since apologised as working class voters deserted the party in favour of parties such as Ukip and so did their votes permanently.

As well as Johnson’s call for Britons fighting for ISIS to lose their British citizenship, he has attracted support from the former shadow home secretary David Davis and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

David Davis says the Government's response to the crisis in Iraq had been ‘tentative, uncertain; almost limp’! The political will isn’t there even before David Cameron lost the vote in the House of Commons, Tony Blair pretty much singlehandedly put British Foreign policy back several decades and importantly lost the will of the people in the process. Blair wanted to embed himself in the George W Bush camp after President Clinton’s term of Office came to an end, he did that successfully but the human cost or ‘Blood price’ as he described it was paid by many others, a lot of innocent people died in Iraq and the society was destroyed leaving it vulnerable.

Where Davis gets it wrong was when he wrote:

‘Since these young men are in effect swearing allegiance to a hostile state, they should all forfeit their British citizenship - not just those who are dual nationals.
‘Since this is an incredibly serious penalty, it should be done only after a proper public trial carrying all the public seriousness and opprobrium of a murder trial, because in many cases that is what it would be. As the Home Secretary reiterated yesterday, lawyers would say you cannot render someone stateless. Perhaps, perhaps not. Whitehall lawyers have been wrong before. Democracies have a right to defend themselves. IS is claiming to be a state. They can issue these young men with Islamic State passports if they so wish. It is not our problem that they would have trouble getting into any civilised country with them.’

So, David Davis has said a lot, firstly ‘hostile state’ he refers to isn’t a state at all, it is a declaration, a meaningless declaration with no legal basis and not recognised by anyone in the international community.

Losing or forfeit British citizenship would be illegal, so that doesn’t fly. As to any trial, the legality of that is suspect regardless of how much public seriousness and opprobrium is attached to it. Although he gets it right when he says democracies have a right to defend themselves, this is covered by Article 8.2 in the Convention on Human Rights that allows the State to remove people from society who represent a threat to national security after due process of law. Davis’ last bit about the IS recreational killers claiming to have founded a state is entirely meaningless, as is his idea that IS can issue passports.

Britain's ambassador to the United States Sir Peter Westmacott confirmed that intelligence agencies were on the brink of identifying the IS terrorist called ‘Jihadi John’.

He told CNN's State of the Union programme:

‘I do know from my colleagues at home that we are close. We're putting a lot into it. And there are some very sophisticated technologies, voice identification and so on, which people can use to check who these people are. But, of course, the problem goes beyond one horrendous criminal, if you like.’

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told The Sunday Times the killing was ‘an utter betrayal’ of everything Britain stands for.

He added:

‘It is horrifying to think that the perpetrator of this heinous act could have been brought up in Britain.’

I would like to see ‘Jihadi John’ captured and extradited to face charges in the US if possible, some senior UK politicians in this country are making some very dangerous comments regarding eroding human rights which is extremely unhelpful in a number of ways. There are already laws in place to deal with murder and terrorism, but there is a lack of political will to do what is necessary to safeguard the country.

And God helps us if people start seriously listening to Boris Johnson.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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