How Did Britian Use The Military To Rule Its Empire – British troops gather at Kandahar air base to pay their respects during a Remembrance service in November 2014. Credit: Defense Images / Flickr
The outbreak of Covid-19 has shown how quickly our established ideas and normalized ways of thinking can be changed. Work that used to be called “low-skilled” is now recognized as “essential,” the nation hailed nurses as “heroes,” and face masks are a part of routine life.
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- India’s Torture Record Is Dire
- Acts Of Union: Uniting The United Kingdom
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How Did Britian Use The Military To Rule Its Empire
In the midst of a global pandemic, the government of Boris Johnson is about to normalize another idea: impunity for torture. The Ministry of Defense is proposing a five-year limit on prosecutions of British troops accused of war crimes abroad. In practice, this would mean that British soldiers accused of committing crimes, including torture, would go unpunished.
The South African War
A second reading of the Overseas Operations Bill, which makes this possible, is imminent. Supporters argue the legislation will protect military personnel and veterans from “vexatious claims” and a “cycle of re-investigations” from alleged historical offenses resulting from overseas operations. However, survivors of torture, as well as civil society, are frustrated by the time limit placed on justice and accountability.
This legislation has a number of dangerous implications. First, it acts as a barrier to justice. If charges are brought against a former or current member of the Armed Forces after five years, it would be virtually impossible to prosecute that person. It also places a six-year limit on bringing civil claims against the military for torture or unlawful killing. This creates impunity for British troops and risks putting our military above the law. It also creates a clash for responsibility for actions that are part of the policy, for example, the practice of facilitating extraordinary surrender.
Soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade are training to maintain their role as the British Army’s Rapid Reaction Force. Credit: Defense Images/Flickr
The Bill, labeled as an “exercise in public relations” by the former attorney general, Dominic Grieve, seems to reveal double standards in government. As the Ministry of Defense (MoD) seeks greater protection for its troops from prosecution, the Foreign Office says it is working to ensure that foreign perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict – a crime that is clearly torturous – are brought to justice. the justice
India’s Torture Record Is Dire
Second, the time limit itself is another puzzling aspect of the proposal. Why five or six years – why not two, or ten? Consider the time it takes for women to reveal their experiences of sexual assault and report rape, encouraged by the #MeToo movement. Convicted rapist and disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein is reported to have committed his crimes over the course of three decades before the allegations that brought him to justice were reported by the press.
When the Home Office asked me why I had been tortured, I was confused. I did not understand what torture was, only that it had happened to me, like many other horrible things. Survivor of torture in Uganda
Freedom from Torture has been rehabilitating torture survivors for decades, and we know that it is common for our clients to not be able to fully understand their experiences until they have come to terms with what happened to them. A survivor of Ugandan torture told me: “When the Ministry of the Interior asked me why I had been tortured, I was confused. I did not understand what torture was, only that it had happened to me, as many other horrible things.” It is not clear on what evidence the five years were based. There should not be a time limit for justice, so as not to be arbitrary.
Thirdly, far from protecting our British troops, this proposal leaves them open to new risks. Respect for the rule of law protects our Armed Forces in case of their capture during hostilities. It is difficult for the UK to demand compliance with international laws against torture and abuse by others when it does not follow them itself. The horror at the first reports of soldiers abusing Iraqi and Afghan prisoners in the early 2000s was widespread in the media.
Acts Of Union: Uniting The United Kingdom
In addition, Britain played an active role in pushing for accountability for atrocities – from prosecuting Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg to helping to create the International Criminal Court. The latter was created to engage in prosecutions only if a domestic government was “unwilling or unable” to prosecute serious war crimes. Our British troops will now be vulnerable to international investigations if these proposals are pushed through.
And finally, these proposals not only undermine our international reputation, they signal impunity for torturers everywhere. For centuries, the United Kingdom led the way in developing an absolute prohibition of torture, first prohibited by Magna Carta and excluded from English common law until the 13th century. At the end of World War II, leaders came together and said “never again,” as they established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The MoD’s latest proposals signal a worrying shift in attitudes towards torture.
A soldier from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment conducting FIWAF (woodland and forest warfare) training in Norway as part of Exercise Trident Juncture. Credit: Defense Images/Flickr
As pro-torture leaders like Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro take the helm of liberal democracies, the ban on torture that these countries helped establish is now under threat. We know how quickly ideas are normalized.
Russian Made T 80 Main Battle Tanks With Soldiers Take Part In A Military Parade Marking The 61st Anniversary Of Cyprus’ Independence From British Colonial Rule In The Cypriot Capital Nicosia, On Friday, Oct
The torture survivors we work with tell us about the catastrophic impact of this heinous crime – the way it traumatizes entire families, societies and generations. They also tell us that they have seen first hand, in their country of origin, what happens when a government begins to back down on the prohibition of torture. Obstructions to justice, government complicity and fear are all ingredients for creeping authoritarianism.
The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom have a responsibility to maintain the highest standards and must be an example to the world. If these proposals are passed, Great Britain risks damaging the reputation of its soldiers, as well as its global reputation. The prohibition of torture is an idea, which Britain helped establish. In a world where values and attitudes are forever changing, it is an idea that must be protected.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of .
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Tracy is the head of International Advocacy and Accountability for Freedom from Torture. He has more than 20 years of experience advocating for human rights and social justice both in grassroots organizations and around the world.
All over the world, torture is still used to silence and destroy life. Freedom From Torture stands with survivors, providing therapy and support, and fighting for change together. The army that opposes American independence has its roots in the 17th century, with the formation of the “New Model Army” as a permanent permanent army during the English. Civil War. In the century that followed, the size of the army grew and shrank according to the circumstances, and in 1775 it was about 48,000 men. By European standards, the British Army was extremely small – the French maintained a force almost four times larger – but many in Britain did not see the need for a large army. For one, there was political resistance to maintaining a large army. Many British subjects looked at the time of the New Armed Model and saw how a professional force could be used to oppress the people. In addition to the dangers it presented to freedom, a standing army was also very expensive to maintain in peacetime. As an island nation at the heart of a colonial empire, the navy was far more important in maintaining British trade and projecting British power. The army’s main role in peacetime was to guard the colonial borders and maintain control of Ireland.
The British army of the late 18th century was a volunteer force. Unlike the navy, there was no conscription or conscription in the army, a point of pride for most British subjects. Most of the men who volunteered for service were agricultural laborers or tradesmen who were out of work. Life in the army promised a stable salary, regular meals and a way to escape poverty. Before the war enlistment in the army was a commitment for life, but during the war, shorter enlistments of several years were introduced to encourage recruitment. The recruits were generally young, on average in their early 20s, and were drawn from all over Great Britain and Ireland. On the eve of the American Revolution, the majority of men in the ranks had never seen active military service and were not battle veterans. The exception were many of the subordinate officers of the army. These men formed the backbone of the regiment and were often veterans of many years or even decades of service.
As the war in America dragged on the British army expanded rapidly. At least 50,000 soldiers fought in America, with many more serving
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