Friday, 22 January 2010

Self Defence

In this country, the question of self-defence has been raised recently following the appeal of Munir Hussain. I won’t go into all the details of the case but you can read the story here. The reason the question has been bought up though is it is not clear what exactly we are and are not allowed to do, should the worst happen and someone break into your house (I say the worst, I mean in this scenario. There are a lot worse things happening in the world right now).

I said I wouldn’t go into all the details of the case but I will talk about some of the ones which are relevant to this posting. One important quote which makes this in particular case interesting is from one of the judges:

“This trial had nothing to do with the right of the householder to defend themselves or their families or their homes. The burglary was over and the burglars had gone. No one was in any further danger from them."

The reason why I’ve highlighted that quote is because I’m not overly sure that the decision in this appeal was the right one. The reason being is because of the location of the incident after the burglary.

“After freeing himself he contacted Tokeer to help chase the offenders down the street in High Wycombe, bringing one to the ground. The intruder, Walid Salem, 56, suffered permanent brain damage after he was struck with a cricket bat so hard it broke into three pieces.

The Hussain brothers denied being involved in that violence.”

In this particular case, Munir Hussain has had the jail time overturned and his sentence is now a two year suspended sentence. That is by no means “getting off scot-free” as if the guy commits a crime during this time, off to jail he goes, regardless of what it is. Although he did not get off with the crime for which he was convicted of, I’m still not convinced the decision was right. The person who broke into his house was attacked afterwards in the street, to the extent that he now has permanent brain damage. That is a pretty severe beating, one that would in most contexts, deserves a lengthy custodial sentence.

Had this incident taken place inside Mr Hussain’s home, then I would honestly have no issue with it. If Walid Salem broke in, and crossed the threshold of no return (so to speak), and then got assaulted with a cricket bat, he honestly shouldn’t have protection from the law. If you are breaking the law, my opinion is that you are no longer protected by the law. So, if you are breaking into someone’s house and they hit you, assault you, or even kill you – your tough luck. Don’t break the fucking law. This is in line with my belief that murderers and people convicted of terrorist plots forfeit their right to human rights. Forgive the use of Wikipedia for this (pure laziness more than anything else) but:

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has acted as the predominant modern codification of commonly accepted human rights principles and many national many international documents, treaties and instruments that have expanded on its principles and act as a collective expression of widespread conceptions of human rights by the international community. Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life...”

If you kill someone (or lots of people for that matter), and violate that person(s) right to life, why on earth should you still have your right to life? This is bordering into dangerous territory here (and usually ends up in a debate on whether the death penalty should be brought back, and everyone who either supports or opposes the death penalty is in some way comparable with Hitler).

TL;DR – I’m not sure the judgement in the appeal of Munir Hussain was the right judgement. I feel that as he allegedly committed the assault outside of his property then he should have faced jail time, especially considering the result of his attack on Walid Salem. Had the attack taken place in Munir Hussain’s home, then he should be protected by the law to defend his family and property. If this means killing an intruder, so be it. Intruders should not be protected by laws they are breaking by committing burglary. I feel people who violate a person’s basic human rights (the right to life) should forfeit their human rights. People who support or oppose the reintroduction of the death penalty are likely to be compared to Hitler in some way or another.

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