Opinion: Human rights laws have got in the way of common sense

Monday, November 11, 2019

Former Armed Forces minister Lord Andrew Robathan has welcomed Boris Johnson's pledge to protect war veterans from "vexatious legal action" over past conflicts. These are his views and not talkRADIO's.

I served in Northern Ireland 40 years ago. Do I remember what happened? Could I stand in a court of law and say exactly what happened? Of course I couldn’t.

I think the time limit is important. Let’s be quite clear that soldiers have misbehaved and have gone to jail in the past for their misdemeanours in Northern Ireland. People were sentenced to jail for murder, and quite rightly so.

To go back 40 years and reopen cases which nobody is quite clear about now, that’s one thing. But what I would also say is that there is no question of equivalence.

On the one hand you have people going out to murder British civilians and British Armed Forces personnel and police with illegal weapons, going out to do murder.

On the other hand you have people sent by the United Kingdom Parliament to defend the people of the United Kingdom and defend the interests of the United Kingdom.

To view those two as equivalent is barking mad and I’m afraid we have allowed human rights legislation to get in the way of common sense.

I think it’s very important that we use common sense and rationality that good people who were sent out to do their duty by this country are not prosecuted for making mistakes.

We want our soldiers to behave according to the law and according to the Geneva Convention, which they almost exclusively do, and we need to protect them when they stand up and defend our state.

A lot of people in the army now are very, very worried – and apparently it’s discussed hugely at training establishments – about whether you’re allowed to pull a trigger at any stage.

That’s not much good if you’re in a situation where you have to make a split second decision.

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