• December 16, 2014


A few days ago the New York Times (NYT) commenting when the US Senate released its controversial report into torture said:

“The publication today of a censored summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the use of torture at C.I.A. prisons has brought war-crime apologists out from under their rocks.”

Over the next few days how tellingly correct that statement proved to be as retired intelligence and military personnel appeared in newspapers and the broadcast media attempting to defend the indefensible.

It would be useful if some of the United Kingdom media including the so called ‘flagship’ institution the BBC took of few lessons in both morality and journalistic competence from the NYT.

Periodically over the years as the United Kingdom has been found wanting in its attitude to human rights the British media have provided a secure platform for those who wish to defend the indefensible.

During Britain’s protracted war in Ulster and as people were tortured in police stations, gunned down in the streets by so called security forces, or eliminated via extra-judicial killings using state sponsored para-military gangs, there was always a cacophony of defence for these excesses in some of the ‘popular’ British media and shamefully in many instances with the BBC being a willing accomplice.

Interrogation centres in N Ireland used by the PSNI are now referred to as ‘custody suite’s’. It conjures up a strange image, almost of a night or two at the Ritz, until you release that this bizarre use of terminology was forced on the British Government by the terrible record that its ‘holding centres’ had. Men (and women) suffered within these places and the UK media obligingly provided a useful platform for the apologists when any adverse publicity accrued.

They are still at it today! The news that British troops who will, return to Iraq shortly will be expected to adopt appropriate international Human Rights standards towards detainees has been greeted with an explosion of indignation from the torture apologists.

Some elements of the UK media, wheeled out the usual suspects, to express dismay that troops will have to adopt a ‘soft touch’ approach and will not be able to intimidate those detained by shouting or aggressive behavior.

Now is this not the same British Army which on its last tour in Iraq, tortured, assaulted, maimed and in some instances killed detainees?

Article 2 of the UN Convention Against Torture says:

Article 2

Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
The UK government could usefully look at section (1) and take ‘effective legislative’ action to restrain some elements of its media from providing a willing platform for torture apologists!

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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