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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hang em and Flog em

So, Saddam Hussein is to hang. No real surprises there, I wouldn't have thought.

What is perhaps more notable is that, rather than maintaining a dignified and sensible silence on the matter, members of the British government have seen fit to "welcome" the decision.

"I welcome that Saddam Hussein and the other defendants have faced justice and have been held to account for their crimes. Appalling crimes were committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. It is right that those accused of such crimes against the Iraqi people should face Iraqi justice."

So speaks Margaret Beckett, our Foreign Secretary. Thanks for that, Margaret.

Far be it for me to point out the obvious, but are we not supposed to be a nation that doesn't...well...believe in the death penalty? Given that we abolished it in this country quite some time ago, does it not seem a tad hypocritical, unnecessary and just plain tacky for us to condone its use by other nations? It is particularly galling given that Amnesty International (a British charity) has just launched a campaign to end the almost arbitrary death penalties being handed down each year in China - with the apparent support of the British government.
What does that say? To me, it sounds a hell of a lot like, "Ah yes, now the death penalty, that's a dreadful thing and no mistake. Oh, unless you're killing someone we don't like. Carry on, chaps".

More to the point, given that they're making smug noises about having brought about Iraqi sovereignty (by having invading the country - interesting tactics), would this not be the first time that Britain has actually spoken out in favour of the death penalty being handed down by another independent nation?

A worrying precedent indeed.

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