Laying Down the Law on Torture

No sleazy Condoleezean weasel-wording from Britain's highest judges on the subject of torture. The Law Lords' ruling yesterday -- striking down the use of any testimony garnered from torture, even if it was produced in foreign dungeons -- was a hard slap at the moral cretinism of Blair and Bush. Try to imagine any figure on the U.S. Supreme Court -- which has thus far allowed unconscionable tyrannies and atrocities to stand -- speaking such rigor and clarity on the subject. The full text can be found here. These excerpts of the ruling are from the Guardian:

Lord Hoffman: "The use of torture is dishonourable. It corrupts and degrades the state which uses it and the legal system which accepts it ... Many people in the United States have felt their country dishonoured by its use of torture outside the jurisdiction and its practice of extra-legal 'rendition' of suspects to countries where they would be tortured. The rejection of torture ... has a special iconic importance as the touchstone of a humane and civilised legal system."

Lord Hope: "Torture is one of most evil practices known to man. Once torture has become acclimatised in a legal system it spreads like an infectious disease, hardening and brutalising those who have become accustomed to its use.

Lord Brown: "Torture is an unqualified evil. It can never be justified. Rather it must always be punished."

Lord Bingham: "The English common law has regarded torture and its fruits with abhorrence for over 500 years ... I am startled, even a little dismayed, at the suggestion (and the acceptance by the court of appeal majority) that this deeply-rooted tradition and an international obligation solemnly and explicitly undertaken can be overridden ... The issue is one of constitutional principle, whether evidence obtained by torturing another human being may lawfully be admitted against a party to proceedings in a British court ... To that question I would give a very clear negative answer."

Lord Nicholls: "Torture is not acceptable. This is a bedrock moral principle in this country. For centuries the common law has set its face against torture ... Torture attracts universal condemnation. No civilised society condones its use. Unhappily, condemnatory words are not always matched by conduct."

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