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Monday, November 28, 2005 

Sun-watch: Wade confuses political correctness with compassion and presumption of innocence.

Slow news day, so over in Wapping it was time to bring out an old favourite: political correctness.

The gist is that two Iraqis are accused of killing two of "our boys" in 2003. However, the Foreign Office is unwilling to hand them over for trial as they fear that they could face the death penalty.

The Sun well knows that it is British (indeed, EU) policy not to hand over suspects, convicted or not, to countries where they will face the death penalty. If a suspect is to be deported to the United States for example, assurances have to be reached that capital punishment will not be sought or imposed if the accused is convicted. Like it or not, this is not political correctness. It can be described as imposing our values on other countries, or even cultural imperialism, but it is not political correctness. This is not new. Also not new is the hectoring "voice of the people" type way in which the Sun puts forward its point of view on its leader page:

Political correctness is usually merely infuriating. When right-on councillors ban the word Christmas, we can simply tell them not to be such wallies. Or ignore them. It's a different matter when the PC prats interfere with the rule of law. We've captured two Iraqis strongly suspected of murdering brave British soldiers Simon Cullingworth and Luke Allsopp. Our top brass aren't allowed to turn them over for trial because they could face execution under Iraq's justice system. And that would infringe - you guessed it - their human rights. The hell with that. The powers that be were quick enough to put OUR boys on trial when they were suspected - wrongly - of killing an Iraqi. The lawyers must be told to mind their own business. The Iraqis must be handed over. There's plenty of time to build a gallows big enough for them AND Saddam.

Whose law is being interfered with here? If we are holding the captives in a British run prison or camp in Iraq, they are under our law, not the countries which they are in. As for bringing up the court martial of those accused of murdering an Iraqi, that is an entirely different matter. They were found not guilty, and it is unfortunate that they had to go through their ordeal. They did not face the death penalty, and even if convicted would likely have had a relatively light sentence. The Sun ignores that other cases are also coming up, including that of Baha Mousa, which has become notorious. It also ignores the previous conviction for those who abused prisoners and took photos of them. The simple facts of this case are thus: we are firstly unsure of whether these men would receive a fair trial, and secondly they should be innocent until proved guilty. The Sun with its ending seems already to have made up its mind that they are guilty - and that they should be executed alongside Saddam.

The Sun should come right out in the open and admit what it really wants - immunity from prosecution for all soldiers and police. They feel that they can do no wrong - despite such notable cases in the past proving otherwise. The men should be tried under British law, and if found guilty then handed over to the Iraqis for them to imprisoned - not executed. If that is political correctness, so be it.

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