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October 05, 2012

Now Now, Mau Mau: Torture, Torts, and Abu Ghraib

Fascinating legal developments in Britain, where three aged Kenyans who were tortured and imprisoned by the British during the Kenyan Emergency have been granted standing to sue Britain for damages from their torture.

The details of the events are not significantly in question. England has exhausted a raft of technical objections to the case - claiming that the statute of limitations has expired, then claiming that responsibility devolved onto the new Kenyan government upon independance, then claiming that insufficient documentation exists to support the proceedings; each of these objections has been found to be without merit by the British judiciary.

And so the Crown is hoisted on its own petard; as a nation of Laws, they cannot escape accountability in their legal system, and so they are experiencing a conflict that both condemns their past behavior and simultaneously speaks so very highly of them in their willingness to entertain the petition.

Although generally British legal news is sufficient to arouse Americans to reach for the remote control - who put on the Beeb, sheesh! - there are interesting implications for those of us in the Colonies, too.

Imagine if the Iranian prisoners of Abu Ghraib decide to sue the United States for damages? Not the bad guys, but the many innocents that we locked up, tortured, and then released.

Back in the 1950s, they'd have a hard time proving their mistreatment - but our own soldiers have provided digital imagery of abuse, we've got detailed records of waterboarding and bodies packed in ice; WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Breanna Manning have set loose a lot of documentation; there's some major exposure here.

This is the Pakistani news coverage.

1 comments:

mqn said...

And so the Crown is hoisted on its own petard; as a nation of Laws, they cannot escape accountability in their legal system, and so they are experiencing a conflict that both condemns their past behavior and simultaneously speaks so very highly of them in their willingness to entertain the petition.

gurjeet

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