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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Let's have a word or two about torture.
One hardly knows where to begin, what with all the different types which are perpetrated on a daily basis, from British homes to Middle Eastern jails.. but being there's a case in the news at this moment, concerning three Britons and a Canadian who were held in Saudi prisons for two and a half years based on confessions obtained by physical torture, that might be the logical place to start.
These men, whom the Saudi's claim were part of an 'alcohol turf war', claim they were forced into signing confessions following a series of treatments, which included beatings on their hands and feet, forcible feeding of mind-altering frugs, and being suspended by their arms. These claims have been verified by an independent investigation.
They were granted, back in 2004, the right to sue the Saudi Government for their treatment, but that has been recinded.
Saudi Arabia appealed to the Law Lords, arguing that its officials were protected by the 1978 State Immunity Act. This appeal argued that its officials were protected by the 1978 State Immunity Act, and demanded the British Government itself support the Saudi stance.
After the five Law Lords' ruling, a Department for Constitutional Affairs spokesman said the government "condemns torture in all its forms and works to eradicate it wherever it occurs".
"The intervention in this case is not about criminal responsibility for torture, nor about the UK government's attitude to torture.
"It concerns jurisdiction, and the way in which civil damages can be sought against a foreign state for acts allegedly committed in its own territory."

This is unsatisafactory.
To quote one of the victims, "It's all down to money and oil and planes. Don't upset the Saudis. That's the British government's view."
And that in itself, might well be the truth of the matter.
This, keeping in mind, is only one of many such cases, and we will examine this issue in greater depth.

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