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View Full Version : What right have we to interfere with another country's Judicial System?


Tartan Gannet
12th Mar 2002, 15:30
Some time today a man will be executed for murder in Georgia USA. He has had a trial and has exhausted that State's appeal procedures. He had admitted to raping and murdering a woman in 1985.. .. .Now as readers will be well aware I am strongly in favour of Capital Punishment and this case does not alter that view in the slightest.. .. .The question I am posing however is NOT about the rights and wrongs of the Death Penalty. That would be a complete waste of time as most who hold a view of this have entrenched opinions and will not swayed. Such a topic has been done too many times before and would generate great heat but little light.. .. .My question is what right do we have in this Country to interfere in the Judicial Process of another Sovereign State? The USA is a Democracy with the Rule of Law, Trial by Jury, Due Process etc, not some military dictatorship or banana republic. Yet Blair and Straw and other British and European figures have lodged appeals with the Georgia authorities to commute the sentence to Life Imprisonment. These have been ignored by the Georgia Parole Board, rightly so in my opinion, but even at the eleventh hour a body of UK Lawyers are trying to obtain a stay of execution from the US Supreme Court. I would question what right of audience they have in a foreign Court. The defendent may be half British but his crime was committed in the USA against a US Citizen and that Country and State's Laws and punishments must obtain.. .. .Im sure I may be flamed by some Lawyers here on this topic though I have carefully kept the usual epithets out of the question.. .. .So over to you folks, should we appeal in such cases, or leave the system of Justice of the country in question to deal with convicted criminals in its own way, whatever their nationality?

HugMonster
12th Mar 2002, 15:40
I understand that this man is only "British" through accident of place of birth, and that both his parents are Americans.. .. .But to answer your question, TG, I feel that in a case such as this, the British Government have every right to pursue any avenues open to them to request a change in his sentence. The American authorities also have every right to refuse.. .. .End of story.

flapsforty
12th Mar 2002, 15:56
Huggie looks to me like you are taking the facile route here by answering almost-but-not-quite the very relevant question TG is posing.. .. .TG, interesting! Human rights abuse of the more obvious kind like those in various "less civilised" places around the world spring to mind immediately here.. .Have a strong opinion on this one but need a bit more time for proper formulation than I hve now.

tony draper
12th Mar 2002, 16:20
None whatsoever in my book.. .We should start swinging a few here again.

Kilted
12th Mar 2002, 16:37
Ah TG, always the easy questions!!. .. .It seems that HM has made the common mistake of assuming that the UK Government have an 'interest' in this case and that they therefore have a "right" to intervene - they do not! As TG stated, this was an offence committed (and admitted) on US soil, against a US citizen and prosecuted under US law. No other country has any rights whatsoever to interfere in the judicial process, and neither should they.. .. .However, this raises another interesting case.. .. .Yesterday, a British woman, who had been awarded custody of her half-British son (who had been denied as his by a very rich Arab for 8 years and completely unsupported) was arrested in Dubai for trying to bring her son home, in compliance with her custody of him. It seems his father (a UAE native) had been illegally holding him in Dubai and refused to allow her to take him home.. .. .As we probably all know, UAE courts are not known for their independence is such cases, and will, no doubt come down on the side of the father, who is , after all, both a National and a (lowly) member of the royal family.. .. .In a case such as this, where UK law has been so obviously flouted by those with influence abroad, and, where a child is at stake, should the same principles of non-interference apply?. .. .(Edited for attrocious typing!). . . . <small>[ 12 March 2002, 12:40: Message edited by: Kilted ]</small>

Binoculars
12th Mar 2002, 16:47
Some years ago two young Australians by the name of Barlow and Chambers were caught attempting to smuggle drugs out of Malaysia. They were convicted and sentenced to death, raising the hackles of many liberal Australians who believed that because they perceived the death penalty to be barbaric, Australian citizens should not be subjected to it. . .. .On the other hand, the hardline approach to drugs in SE Asian countries was never a secret, and sympathy outside the left-liberal establishment was decidely lacking, even when it became clear that Barlow and Chambers were in fact going to be executed, as they later were.. .. .I'm not familiar with the situation you describe, TG, but it sounds fairly similar, and boils down to a matter of opinion. Personally, as a believer in people taking responsibility for their own actions, I can't possibly impose my own moral doubts on capital punishment on a country where the penalty has never been less than clear. It also bothers me that heroin trafficking can be somehow overlooked by those supposedly horrified by the concept of capital punishment.. .. .To use an old phrase, "you pays your money and you takes your chances". Don't come complaining to me if you get caught.

Tricky Woo
12th Mar 2002, 16:55
We don't have a right to interfere, as long as the laws are clear, and properly processed.. .. .TW

SLF 999
12th Mar 2002, 17:39
None . .. .Commit a crime in a country, get caught and take the punshment that the country hands out, no matter if your a national or not you have to live by the laws of the country you are in.. .. .Your country may appeal for clemency but who has to listen ?. . . . <small>[ 12 March 2002, 13:40: Message edited by: SLF 999 ]</small>

Grainger
12th Mar 2002, 17:40
This case is in the USA and fairly clear cut.. .. .What happens when a UK citizen is held in a more dodgy foreign country, harshly sentenced for a much lesser crime ? Public flogging for drinking alcohol, death penalty for adultery or something ?. .. .Would you expect the UK government to stand by and do nothing? I hope not.. .. .Seems to me a certain amount of special pleading is going on here, because in this case most of us reckon the guy clearly did it and deserves what he gets. . .. .But the _principle_ is bigger than this one case.

PTT
12th Mar 2002, 17:59
I would be no more subject to British law if I were in China, for example, than a Chinaman would be subject to Chinese law if he were here in the UK.. .. .When in Rome.... .. .As to whether I should expect my Government to help me should I break a foreign law whilst on foreign soil, I would suggest that this depends on the act commited and the expected punishment:. .- If the act is a crime in both countries then the punishment applied by the country in which the crime was commited should apply - it can be reasonably stated that the perpetrator knew that it was a crime and still carried it out, and the sentence for the crime is irrelevant with regards to the intent.. .- If the act is a crime only in the country in which it is commited then the government of the perpetrator should seek to aid him or her by reducing or commuting the sentence - it is entirely possible that the perpetrator did not know he was commiting a crime and, as such, should be able to use ignorance as some excuse, but should not get away without punishment.. .. .Just my opinion <img border="0" title="" alt="[Smile]" src="smile.gif" /> . .. .PTT

swashplate
12th Mar 2002, 18:07
Actually TG, this is a much wider issue IMHO..... .. .I don't think we have the right to interfere in any other country full stop!. .. .Who are we to say that thier customs are 'barbaric' - they are prob saying much the same about us!!!! . .. .Theres a lot to be said for the Prime Directive...... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> . .. .....when in Rome...etc...etc.... .. .However, of course, that goes the other way as well. Other countries do not have the right to interfere with us also...... .. .International relations should be on the basis of mutual respect and consent, not 'Bully boys' throwing thier weight around...... .. .Thats the way I see it anyway.. . . . <small>[ 12 March 2002, 14:10: Message edited by: swashplate ]</small>

rover2701
12th Mar 2002, 18:28
Grainger. .you beat me to it. . .I spent two years in Saudi and almost weekly there was public executions in some part of that country. If a British national had been sentenced to death for what we in the west would perceive as not a crime (aldutery springs to mind)wouldnt we all be revolted and expect our government to mount a protest. I am afraid we can't be selective in this because we would then appear to hypocritical. Once again it would be the wicked west versus Islam or the Arabs. Now I am not saying this chap did not commit a crime according to our laws. It seems he most certainly did, and should be punished for it.. .. .Now to lay my cards on the table. I am against the death penalty, but the British government asking for clemency is hardly interfering with that countries judicial system. Probably no more than each of us asking for clemency for that person.. .As to this chap who is to be executed, his rights as a British citizen result from his place of birth, which was Bermuda. So the ties are tenuous to say the least. Should he be executed according to the state of Georgia's laws it seems so. Should he be executed because of the crime he committed, that depends on your point of view. I personaly think life in jail is the just penalty

HugMonster
12th Mar 2002, 18:46
I think one or two people misunderstood me.. .. .I don't intend to say that the British Government has a right to interfere. They don't. But they do have a right to make representations, to make appeals for commutation of sentence, to plead on behalf of a British citizen.. .. .As for the so-called "barbaric" countries, I agree with swash - who are we to call anyone else barbaric?. .. .As far as the sub-plot of capital punishment is concerned, I am implacably opposed to it. However, if people commit offences other countries, they must expect to pay the penalty.

Skytrucker87
13th Mar 2002, 00:58
OOO I would really like to contribute to this thread but my views on capital punishment have got me into enough grief already!. .. .Eye for an eye etc.. .. .Tony Bleh has not interfered in my opinion. It is another example of the 'Strongly Worded letter' so beloved by the civil service. It is unlikely to be even considered by the Supreme Court with whom the final decision now rests.

Ali Barber
13th Mar 2002, 01:33
From what the media are saying (and they never lie!) both Blur and Straw have not gone so far as to attempt direct intervention. Blur restated his opposition to the death penalty (entitled to his opinion) and Straw made a personal plea to the Governor of Georgia. As with all US death penalty cases (it seems) there is an endless series of appeals with the latest being based on this man not being allowed a visit by a British consul after his arrest which is a statutory right. This has been thrown out and they are now appealing to higher courts. I know nothing about the case so cannot comment, but if this fails I'm sure they'll find another reason to appeal for clemency. I wouldn't like to guess which way it will go but, as he admitted the rape and murder of one woman and apparently confessed while on remand to another 17 murders, my vote is give him the needle! . .. .Edited for spot of bad taste at the end that I decided to delete.. . . . <small>[ 12 March 2002, 21:34: Message edited by: Ali Barber ]</small>

Unwell_Raptor
13th Mar 2002, 01:48
And if the Prime Minister had not asked the US authorities for clemency, what would the Daily Mail and the PPRuNe Blairophobes have made of that?. .. ."Blair Stands Idly By as Brit Dies". .. .Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.. .. .As several people have pointed out, the question is a silly one. Nobody has attempted to 'interfere' and nobody has claimed such a 'right'.

tony draper
13th Mar 2002, 02:08
Hangings got more class than the needle.

Flying Lawyer
13th Mar 2002, 04:38
What right do we have in this Country to interfere in the Judicial Process of another Sovereign State?. .None. . .As you rightly say, "The USA is a Democracy with the Rule of Law, Trial by Jury, Due Process etc, not some military dictatorship or banana republic?". .. .On the more general point ...... .. .British governments, regardless of party, constantly ask foreign states to be lenient on British subjects. . .They shouldn't. . .Observing the trial process is necessary in some countries, but attempting to interfere in sentence is an entirely different matter, and wrong.. .Brits abroad should abide by the laws of their host country. If they commit offences they should be punished according to the law and practice of their host country, not of the UK.. .. .(I'd make one exception to the above, but won't go into it now because it would spoil the discussion.). . . . <small>[ 13 March 2002, 00:50: Message edited by: Flying Lawyer ]</small>

ImNot
13th Mar 2002, 07:08
We wouldn't want another country interfereing with our judicial system so why should we interfere with theirs. As a UK citizen on US soil I expect to have to abide by their laws and any other country for that matter. As much as I disagree with the death penalty I believe we must respect the law of the land in which we currently live.

Tartan Gannet
13th Mar 2002, 09:22
Thanks all for your well considered and sensible answers, thankfully devoid of emotive language on either side. . .. .As I type this the person in question is dead, and to my mind facing the only TRUE Justice in the Universe, that of the Almighty.. .. .My only problem with the US system is the inordinate length of time from conviction to execution. To keep a person on Death Row for so many years is to my mind a form of mental torture. I understand that in the UK when we had hanging it was about 3 weeks from sentence to execution, allowing for an almost matter of course appeal for clemency to the Home Secretary. Am I correct that this was very seldom granted?