The BBC are going into overdrive on the story of some Afghan detainees, held for their own safety and that of British troops, beyond what is claimed to be the legal time limit.
Excited claims of a British Guantanamo are being bandied about….the detainee’s lawyers making sure they hype that line to generate a bit of ‘shock’….the BBC were happy to play along at first…but all mentions of Guantanamo seemed to have been scrubbed from the latest reports…maybe someone had a little word.
I mentioned earlier that perhaps the ‘failure’ of MI5 to pick up the two killers of Lee Rigby may be in part linked to the knowledge that as soon as they do detain someone the BBC and human rights lawyers will blitz them.
When you see the coverage that the BBC is giving to a detention centre in Afghanistan you may think I had a point….already being billed as a mini Guantanamo.
It’s the top story on the web and had been a constant thread throughout the Today programme.
Suspected or known Taliban captives are held by the British…they are supposed to hand them over to the Afghan judicial process but do not because that is prone to using torture and violence….not only that but a bundle of Afghan dollars soon wins the captive’s release and they are back on the battlefield.
So essentially the Afghans were being held by the British to prevent them being abused by the Afghan authorities…and to stop them walking out of prison, picking up a rifle or a bomb and setting off to kill a British soldier. Controversial.
Evan Davis on the Today programme (about 08:15) had on lawyer Phil Shiner who is acting for 8 detained Afghans…detained because they are believed to be Taliban.
Shiner was allowed to deliver his well rehearsed spiel unchecked. Davis had no relevant questions challenging anything he claimed.
This is what the web story reports he said, and as also said to Davis:
“This is a secret facility that’s been used to unlawfully detain or intern up to 85 Afghans that they’ve kept secret, that Parliament doesn’t know about, that courts previously when they have interrogated issues like detention and internment in Afghanistan have never been told about – completely off the radar.”
He also claimed that the British were not doing anything to solve the problem such as setting up a monitored Afghan facility.
You might have thought Davis would have had a bit of research to check his claims before speaking to him…and the web site to delve deeper….but no…it wasn’t until Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond came on that we learned the truth.
Hammond told us that he had informed Parliament…so no ‘secret‘ facility then……he also revealed that there was an ongoing programme to improve the Afghan judicial system and implement a proper overwatch and judicial process to allow a safe transfer of detainees…he also revealed that Shiner’s firm had actually been involved in legally blocking the transfer of Afghans to the Afghan authorities.
You wonder just what Shiner would have got away with if Hammond hadn’t also been on to correct his misinformation….would Davis have challenged him?
The web site’s initial report still has the wrong information in it and is still on the front page….claiming Parliament didn’t know of the facility and missing out the essential fact that the UK had been working with the Afghans to introduce a system that would ensure the safety of detainees.
There is a new updated report now headlining…it’s obviously a very important matter for the BBC.
This reports that the UK is ready to hand over detainees to the Afghans: ‘The MoD said it had now found a “safe route” for their return’….the BBC claiming: ‘The move came after the BBC was shown documents detailing how 85 suspected insurgents were being held at Camp Bastion, the main British base in Afghanistan.’
Is that the BBC trying to claim the credit?
They do now note that: ‘Mr Hammond said the UK government has been working with its Afghan counterparts to find a safe way to resume transfers of detainees to the Afghan judicial system.’
But then report the opposite:
“The UK could have trained the Afghan authorities to detain people lawfully with proper standards and making sure they are treated humanely,” Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, told the BBC.
“They could have then monitored that, including with ad hoc inspections, to make sure the Afghans were obeying the law. They have chosen not to do so.”
He said the UK was acting in an “entirely unconstitutional” way.
A final point…Hammond revealed that the work of the likes of Phil Shiner was being funded by British legal aid. I would have thought that was almost as controversial as holding detainees beyond the legal time for their own safety and that of British troops. Wonder what the Great British Public think of that…funding the legal defence of foreign terrorist suspects in a foreign land whilst Barristers only today have sent a letter to government detailing how cuts to legal aid will damage the provision of justice.
The BBC don’t think it worth serious comment…mocking Hammond for raising the matter:
T’he defence secretary was keen to point out the Afghans’ case was being brought “at the expense, of course, of the British taxpayer, because Mr Shiner’s actions are funded by the legal aid system”.‘