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Monday, July 25, 2005

Shoot to kill: on the horns of a moral dilemma

London's police chief has said there is now a shoot-to-kill policy in place. The speedy five bullet shooting in full public view of Jean-Charles de Menezes has brought into stark reality enforcement options for those charged with the responsibility of public safety.

The War against Terror is challenging democratic societies - particularly those like the USA, Britain, and Australia who participate in the war in Iraq. The impact of terrorism is not only in events such as the Bali bombing. There is significant impact on our civil and political rights. Most of us will only have experienced this as queues and detailed security checks at airports. We have to remember that in Australia laws have already been introduced and/or altered in quite draconian ways and further tightening is proposed. Britain is currently going down the same road. Our laws derive from British common law which includes great documents of liberty such as the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. It is only in recent times that British police have carried guns - now we have moved to a dramatic shoot-to-kill policy carried out in public. This gives pause for thought. When this can happen in London the capital of a country renowned for liberty and a high level of personal freedom; for British common sense; for getting on with things - where to from here?