21 August 2007

Sorry Mrs Lawrence but...

...The trouble with the Human Rights Act is...
it applies to ALL humans, even ones we don't particularly like. I think the real issue is that Mrs Lawrence and others believe that 11 years (indeed any length of time in prison or indeed any punishment) will not be enough. I can understand why they hold this point of view. How long would be enough to sentence a 15 year old for a crime like this - such a senseless random murder that any sentence seems inappropriate. But their nationality is irrelevent to the punishment. If someone is a foreign national then extradition is appropriate - but how can extradition to Italy of a boy who speaks no Italian, has little recollection of his life in Italy (he left at 6) and whose mother lives in the UK be appropriate? Mrs Lawrence argues her family will not feel safe if he remains in the UK, but does that mean we should send ALL criminals abroad (even if they have been born and bred here)? Obviously if Mr Lawrence's murderer had been born here, where would that leave her argument?

We are all sorry for the horrific crime that Mrs Lawrence's family have had to endure but that should not mean her hurt is allowed to skew a sensible judgement. There really is no argument in favour of this other than that someone should be treated more severely if the media take an interest - and that is no argument at all.


  1. A justice system worthy of the name ensures that the punishment fits the crime and that the rights of the victim and the victims family take precedent over the rights of the criminal. What about Mrs Lawrence's right to see justice served?

  2. If you want a longer jail sentence that is a different argument that may well be justified - but this is about whether this particular person should be sent to Italy. There clearly is no justification for that.

  3. The justification is that he is a foreign national who has committed a crime in this country and therefore forfeited his right of residence. A country should have no requirement to keep or provide a duty of care to foreign nationals who commit crimes on its soil however long they've been here.

    The Australians are perfectly prepared to send non-citizens who've been there since they were children back to their country of origins even if they don't know the country, don't speak the language or have Australian spouses and children, if they've committed crimes.



    We should do the same

  4. Completely agree, Neil.

    Sarah - that another country does something is hardly a valid reason. The concept of 'foreign national' is clearly broken, for the reasons Neil said. What if somebody were born in a car that was about to drive across a border? That's an extreme example, but I think it shows that we have to analyse this on a case-by-case basis - hard-and-fast rules just won't work. If people want to justify deporting somebody to a country they barely remember they'll need better reasons than just 'he was born there'.

    People may want the guy out of the country and away from them, and I can sympathise with this. But given that he's served his time, however controversial its length may be, he's free to do what he likes.

  5. For once I agree with you Neil. The question of the sentence is a separate issue.

    As you know, I always look to the practical. Surely if he has an EU passport deporting him to Italy would be pointless anyway as he'd just come back here - but I admit I'm not a legal expert :-)

  6. but this is about whether this particular person should be sent to Italy. There clearly is no justification for that.

    Agreed. Chindamo is a convicted murderer. He will be released on licence. He may well be ready to lead a useful, law-abiding life. If and when he is released, it should be because a parole board has decided that he is unlikely to commit future crimes.

    One can argue over the size of his tariff. It might be reasonable to argue that, despite his young age, the tariff in his case should have been whole-of-life.

    But trying to claim that he should go to Italy is absurd. Yes, he holds Italian citizenship, but that's a technicality. Sending people, even criminals who have committed horrible crimes, "back" to countries where they don't speak the language and have no connection, has nothing to do with justice.

    [Plus he's a citizen of an EU country. Doesn't that get him the right of free movement within the EU, so even if we did deport him, he could be on the next plane back?]

  7. So what Sarah if Australia behaves in a thoroughly despicable way? Australia's treatment of asylum seekers is pretty barbaric and its treatment of its own aboriginal people is nothing short of a racist crime. The Howard government has used the pretext of child welfare to put aboriginal communities under a form of martial law. We need take no lessons from Howard on how we should behave.