Tuesday, September 22, 2009

David "Doublespeak" Miliband

A few weeks ago I wrote to David Miliband in his capacity as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to ask him to sign the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. You can find out more about the situation here. Today I received a reply from a Ms Woollard, responding on behalf of Mr Miliband. It was - frankly - a load of shite...

"In principle the Government supports the Convention against Enforced Disappearance. However, we do need to examine the potential impact on our law if the UK were to ratify it. In particular, lawyers are analysing the extent to which common law provisions may need to be replicated in statute law, and whether the introduction of one or more specific criminal offences would be needed."

He's seriously telling me that he's worried about the impact that signing the UN Convention against Enforced Disappearance might have on UK law? If there is any possible way in which UK law could be affected by the UN convention against Enforced Disappearance then it is UK law that needs to change. Effectively his email tells me he's not prepared to condemn enforced disappearances overseas in case he wants to enforce some disappearances over here...?

"If the Government decides to ratify the Convention, these changes to the law would require primary legislation, which would be introduced when Parliamentary time allowed. Decisions would also need to be taken on whether the United Kingdom required any reservations or declarations upon ratification. The complexity of these issues under consideration does not permit a deadline to be set at this time for completion of this analysis, however, work is being progressed as rapidly are possible."

What a load of political double speak. "We'd love to end human rights abuses but we're just so busy right now". "Oh well we couldn't possible stop people from dying until we've had a nice cup of tea and a hob-nob..."

"The UK takes its international obligations seriously. For instance, in December 2003 and after detailed consideration, the UK was the third country in the world to ratify the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. As part of this protocol, on 19 May this year, we established a 'National Preventative Mechanism' to inspect the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in any circumstances within the UK."

The most recent example he has of the UK doing something right in terms of international attitudes to human rights is 2003? Firstly I love the way he writes "the UK" as if I'm not actually part of it. I know about the UN protocol on torture. I wrote to MPs in 2003 and asked them to sign it. I didn't write to Miliband at the time because (doh!) in 2003 he was MP for South Shields and held no other governmental position. If anything I was more closely involved in that one than he was.

It's actually a waste of government time in my opinion to be to-ing and fro-ing about an issue as simple and clear-cut as this. Do we support human rights abuses? No. Next.

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