As the BBC has reported, “For years, Britain sought assurances from foreign governments that the death penalty would not be used in cases where the UK provided information or extradited suspects … But, in a letter leaked to the Telegraph, [Sajid] Javid said he would seek no assurances about Kotey and Elsheik's sentences”.
Silence over there in the blogosphere! Put that man on a charge!!
The article had explained “Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheik, from London, are accused of being the last two members of an IS cell dubbed ‘The Beatles’, which killed Western hostages”. His shadow Diane Abbott reminded Javid “it was not possible to be a ‘little bit in favour’ of the death penalty”. It smacked of cheap populism - and in the process, pandering to the Islamophobic fringe.
And talking of the Islamophobic fringe, there followed forthright support from former soldier and current bigot Richard Kemp, whose attitude to those nasty brown people who don’t go down the Rub-A-Dub to get Elephant’s Trunk And Mozart will be familiar to Zelo Street regulars. Kemp has been given a platform by the desperate and downmarket Telegraph.
Here, he talks well, but lies badly. “Better that jihadists rot untried in Guantánamo or go to the electric chair than endanger our streets” he rants, perhaps unaware that the electric chair has been either outlawed or superseded by lethal injection in US states that had previously used it (many, including California, have never used the electric chair).
Still, a mere research fail, eh? Do go on. “Sajid Javid is prioritising the rights and safety of innocents above the human rights of suspected terrorists. Far better for them to go to the electric chair in the US if convicted than to let them come back to Britain and murder our citizens” Electric chair slip again. And what is this “come back to Britain”?
We get a hint of what he is driving at here: “A vital purpose of judicial punishment is deterrence. What is the message to would-be jihadists if these men, accused of perpetrating the most horrific crimes imaginable - including torture and an estimated 27 beheadings - were allowed to return to our streets without so much as a trial?”
Well, considering the two allegedly participated in a series of beheadings and other non-trivial crimes, there would appear to be plenty of grounds for putting them on trial. That, though, is not good enough for Kemp, because “Of course both execution and detention without trial run contrary to British ethical principles. But history proves that, in war time, we must sometimes adapt our values to secure victory. And be in no doubt: we are at war”.
ISIS HQ? Yeah, you follow that sign, take the first left and it's on your right
It was that mentality that helped what are euphemistically known as The Troubles to drag on for so many years, not just in Northern Ireland but here in mainland Britain - and across Europe. Or did Kemp forget the many controversies around “shoot to kill”?
He did indeed: Kemp’s true priority is to do away with human rights, but only for those he doesn’t like. “Brexit enables us to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, which never contemplated the type of conflict we face and shackles our legal system in a way that costs innocent lives”. Taking away human rights is not going to save lieves.
And then he goes totally gaga, but lets us know where he is really at. “At least 400 British Muslims who fought with the Islamic State are estimated to have returned home. Of these, just 54 have been convicted, many receiving short sentences and already released. This reflects our inadequate laws. Until those laws can be changed, these people should be deported or detained and the 300 remaining survivors prevented from returning”.
If they received “short” sentences, that would be because they had not been charged with anything like beheading or other capital offences, then. Kemp offers a false equivalence in order to persuade his audience to go along with his thirst for bloodlust.
And why British citizens should be deported - where did he have in mind? - or even detained if there is no evidence of wrongdoing, well, that’s the top of a very slippery slope indeed. Did he forget how wonderfully effective internment was not?
If there is sufficient evidence for the two individuals to be put on trial somewhere in the USA, there is evidence to put them on trial here. There is no reason to treat those who may have served with ISIS (or whatever they’re called this week) as an excuse to turn crime and punishment into an ad-hoc export business.
Richard Kemp has, in any case, only taken this stand because he is an Islamophobic bigot. And that is no basis on which justice should proceed. End of story.