Between them John Reid, Lord Goldsmith, Tony Blair and Lord Flatmate have
made a bit of a muddle of the criminal justice system, but the BBC are reporting
that Labour have found at least one category of felon the Government can agree
should be locked up: foreign war criminals.
Margaret Beckett, still Foreign Secretary after nearly 2 months now, has
agreed with Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, that Britain will provide
imprisonment for Charles Taylor, ex-dictator of Liberia, who is facing 11
charges of war crimes relating to the civil war in Sierra Leone, and this clears
the way for Taylor to stand trial in Holland.
It is a mere fly in the ointment that, at present, the Government have no
legal powers to actually do this, and fresh legislation will be required. 
Still, with 54 pieces of criminal justice legislation to their credit since 1997
(and the 55th on its way courtesy of Tony Blair during Prime Minister’s
Questions yesterday) the parliamentary draughtsmen should be able to take this
in their stride. 
Convicted war criminals are likely to be taken very seriously indeed, so if
Taylor is convicted he can expect to spend, oh, at least 18 months inside. 
After that, perhaps Birmingham Council will give him a job in their finance
department?  (It might do wonders for council tax arrears in the West Midlands:
Taylor used some very unsubtle ways of raising revenue when he ran

William Norton