July 23, 2006

Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse

We've all heard, or experienced, a similar story. Someone commits a traffic violation or other legal infraction. The person honestly didn't know that they were breaking a law. The police officer and court system says, "Sorry. You're guilty. Ignorance of the law is not a legitimate excuse."

Recently, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting the sanctioned torture of detainees by the US Military. AP Article According to the AP article, "A Pentagon spokesman, Cmdr. Greg Hicks, said the military is reviewing its procedures regarding detainees following a Supreme Court ruling that the Geneva Conventions should apply in the conflict with al-Qaida."

It sounds like the military and political establishment are gearing up to say, "Oh. We didn't know that the Geneva Conventions applied. Now that we know, we'll follow them, but you can't blame us for our past actions."

Sorry, "Ignorantia juris non excusat," latin for ignorance of law is no excuse, is a long standing maxum that applies in this case.

More Information:

Human Rights Watch Press Release

Human Rights Watch 53-page Report by John Sifton, “No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq”


Once we had laws that made it OK to own slaves. Now Congress has passed a law to make it OK, retrospectively, to violate the Geneva Conventions. (The Military Commissions Act signed into law October 17, 2006.)

I can't understand how they can legislate themselves out of this one. It's like a fox gets caught in the hen house. Then the fox puts on a chicken suit while the farmer is standing there and pretends he isn't a fox.

1 comment:

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