The International Writers Magazine

James Skinner

One of my many tasks as Honorary British Consul is to visit the local prison centres where several British citizens are held on various charges of breaking Spanish law. My main concern is that of a humanitarian nature and is to ensure the safeguard of their treatment and their welfare under the various international and European agreements of human rights for prisoners.

Spain is a civilized country and therefore there are hardly any real complaints of this nature. When I first visited one of these institutions, I naively asked the Director about the abidance of human rights in general and especially by the prison guards when dealing with awkward prisoners. His answer was quite succinct. ‘Mr. Skinner, over 60% of the criminals in here don’t even know what human rights are!’

Now this does not mean that there is any brutality of torture going on in my local prisons. What the Director meant was that the majority of the inmates were from neither countries that had no civil rights codes, nor laws that protected abuse and therefore the criminals themselves had no idea what was right or wrong as far as their possible treatment was concerned. Turn the table round and this can also be interpreted as ‘everything goes’ by criminal acts perpetrated by citizens of outlandish areas of the world when they happen to be in a law abiding country such as those of the European Union. There are many persons of different nationalities wandering around Europe today, legally or illegally who couldn’t give a fig about law and order. Because they were so used to disorder in their original natural habitat, including their own prisons it is very easy for them to interpret human rights attitudes by their prison wardens as sheer weakness of authority. Put another way, a stay in a European prison is equivalent to a 3 star hotel in their own country. So what gives then, with all this hoopla about Guantanamo and the United Nations insistence on closing it down? Who is Koffi Annan listening to, the international secret service organisations or Amnesty International?

Then we have all the do-gooders around the world, especially the international media screaming blue murder at George Bush because the Pentagon is ill treating suspected terrorists of all shapes and sizes. Has everyone forgotten Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda friends? What about the destruction of the twin towers in New York, the trains in Madrid and the underground in London to name a few ‘human rights’ acts; were the perpetrators of these horrendous mass murders thinking about human rights at the time? Not that I’m in favour of torture and brutality of any kind; far from it. The world has a right to know what goes on in one of the most secretive prison centres in the world. This is probably where the US military have got it wrong. But let’s put everything into perspective once and for all. Any guy who travels on a Western passport, flies out to Pakistan for a few weeks, attends a tea party in Afghanistan and is then caught by the US secret service is ripe for interrogation. As Condoleezza Rice said without hesitation, ‘thanks to Guantanamo, we’ve been able to hinder a great deal of possible terrorist attacks in Europe.’ Believe it if you like, but I think she has a point.

But we still haven’t got it right anyway. No sooner has the United Nations condemned the Cuban prison centre that along comes the ‘News of the World’ newspaper from the UK and splashes a series of pictures printed off a video depicting British soldiers beating the hell out of a few Iraqi youngsters in Basra. The events were meant to have taken place two years ago yet the timing of the publication is bang on! Nothing like fuelling the Islamic dynamite centres around the world now that they are all up in arms against the West because of some caricatures published in a Danish newspaper in September last year showing the prophet Mohammed. It’s as if the media have done it on purpose. Did everything cease forthwith? No way!

The Australian television has now jumped on the bandwagon and released new pictures previously unseen of the abuses by US troops at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that occurred way back in 2003. US civil liberty groups have rushed to the rescue of human rights, once again and asked for a full blown inquiry. Into what? To once again open up all the wounds on human rights abuses that we were all subjected to three years ago and to condemn a few psychopathic army guards who had nothing better to do than torture a few prisoners at the time is crazy. Is all this muck-raising on the pretext of ‘exposing the truth’ going to better relations with our Islamic brethren? Like hell it is! And the worst thing is that it has nothing to do with the fight on neither terrorism nor the appeasing of hungry Muslims the world over who are screaming for revenge against our Western civilization. It just adds to the madness.

Back in my host country, Spain we have just celebrated an international forum in Valencia to discuss the plight of ‘victims of terrorism’. Would you believe it? This country actually organised a real live show and get-together of innocent human beings, especially those who were or have had a relative shot, blown up or destroyed by the Basque terrorist organisation ETA in order to view discuss and reassert the plight of their own ‘human rights’ abuse that had been inflicted on them. Is it splashed across the international news? Are there massive demonstrations supporting these victims and their destroyed lives? No, sir! Nobody gives a damn about a few mutilated bodies, motherless children or lost relatives who had their lives thrown out of the window by a so called ‘human rights’ abuser of another kind. When these bastards are caught, are they given a Pit-bull or a Rotweiller as a playmate? Are they paraded naked and asked to masturbate until they are sperm dry? No sir! Anyone caught by the European authorities that have blown up a few supermarkets and although they are condemned to a few years in prison, not many, just a few are given three meals a day, plenty of exercise and even a university course in business management to pass the time away.
That is why I always ask, who mentioned human rights?’

© James Skinner. February 2006.

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