Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tough Choices

Scales of Justice
We may may not like its outcome,
but justice has been done
The reaction of significant parts of the UK political blogosphere to the recent ruling that Learco Chindamo, murderer of headmaster Philip Lawrence in 1995, shows the increasing maturity of this form of media, in many cases exceeding that of the dead tree press.

There is no doubt of the horror of Chindamo's crime, and the waves of sympathy to Mr Lawrence's widow is more than justified, so it was hardly surprising that there were a few initial postings hostile to the court's ruling that he should not be deported. The fact that it carried the increasingly suspect tag that this was in the name of his 'Human Rights' only fanned the flames, as did the revolting performance by his lawyer on TV and radio, promoting Mr Chindamo's 'victimhood' and a contrition for his crimes that more neutral sources call very seriously into doubt.

Despite this, it has taken very little time for many more thoughtful reflections on the case to appear, such as those at A Very British Dude and EURSOC, neither exactly hotbeds of support for the Human Rights Act, or its EU genesis. The fact is, whether we like it or not, the court, and these commentators are right. To understand why, all one has to do is consider the newspaper stories that would greet a hypothetical reversed situation:
"An Italian court has ordered the deportation of notorious murderer, XXXXX, to the United Kingdom at the end of his sentence. Mr XXXXX, 27, who left London with his parents for Rome as an infant, killed a policeman at the age of 15."

The hypothetical killer would have been a product of Italian society, as much as, regrettably Chindamo is one of our own.

It's unfortunate that the legal mechanism to assert this obvious fact, is to put it forward as a matter Mr Chindamo's human rights. As far as I'm concerned the like of Chindamo should have very limited human rights, even after release, and to an extent he will find them constrained by a life licence. It is more a matter though of a mature society, or perhaps two society's if you consider the Italian position on the matter, deciding on the best way to deal with a thoroughly unpleasant human being. On this test it is obvious that best of a series of bad options is for him to remain in this country in a closely supervised situation, rather than to send him back to Italy, where he is rootless and all the more likely to disappear in to the woodwork, all the more likely to reoffend, possibly after an return to this country, unknown to the authorities.

The failings here are not of the court, nor of the Human Rights Act per se. There are many reasons to review the operation of the increasingly discredited Human Rights Act, but this case should not be the casus belli for this review. The real culprits here seem to be government, who seem to have made promises they cannot keep to Mr Lawrence's widow, and now seem hell bent on pursuing an appeal, that common sense would dictate is doomed to fail, for purely political reasons. To be even handed, some of the same criticism can be directed to the official opposition too in their response to the case.

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