The British media is currently covering a story about human rights. British soldiers could find themselves in court because there have been over 1000 allegations of murder, torture and rape against them. The way the story is being covered is appalling. We are given a strong sense that these claims have no merit and it’s all just a waste of tax-payers’ money. The scale of the problem is so large that the Government has set up a unit of 145 people to deal with these claims.
Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired soldier, gives his opinion that these matters are trivial. The implication is that our soldiers couldn’t do such things and once these cases go to court they are usually dismissed. My interpretation of this is very different from the Colonel’s – I see it that these unfortunate people are not getting justice in the British legal system. We are also told that this is the work of “ambulance-chasing” lawyers.
Human rights are there to protect everybody. These laws exist to protect the individual against the excesses of the state. The “normal” work of a soldier , if such a thing exists, won’t be classified as a war crime. This isn’t about a soldier’s combat role – it’s about claims of murder, torture and rape. These claims need to be dealt with fairly, with dignity afforded to the victim, and we all need to be aware of why people need human rights.