Friday Ephemera
Rough and Tumble

Territory (2)

Further to recent comments on the ideological disdain of territory, this may be relevant. Over at Harry’s Place, David T says something I find bizarre. In discussing the Nassim Saadi deportation case and its broader implications, he says,

I think it is quite right that we should not deport individuals to countries where they will be tortured. A country which deports - or even connives in the rendition of - a person who they know or suspect will be tortured bears moral responsibility for any torture which takes place. If you oppose torture in all circumstances, as you should, then it does not do to argue that your country bears no guilt for what happens after deportation.

This is quite a remarkable bundle of claims and one that’s often asserted wholesale rather than argued. Why doesn’t it do? One might, for instance, take the view that a person of foreign citizenship convicted of serious crimes, whether they include terrorism or not, has broken a fundamental covenant with the host society. And thus, one might argue, the conditional protections extended to visitors by that society are forfeit. Tax payers could conceivably have moral objections to paying for the food, medicines and accommodation of foreign prisoners intent on doing them harm, and possibly spreading their intentions among others, either in prison or at large.

In light of that, expulsion from the host society seems a not unreasonable consequence and certainly within the realm of consideration. If a person facing expulsion runs the risk of ill-treatment, even torture, by third parties overseas, it’s not exactly clear why that should imply some vicarious moral responsibility. (Though one could argue it may discourage foreign nationals from committing serious crimes in the first place.) Awareness that such acts may or may not take place in other countries doesn’t imply that one condones those acts. It merely implies one no longer feels an obligation to protect an unwelcome and hostile visitor from the actions of third parties. Indeed, in instances of egregious criminality, including terrorism and attempted terrorism, I suspect quite a few people would be happy to see the perpetrators dropped into international waters and allowed to fend for themselves, to whatever extent they can.

Update: More in the comments.

Update 2: Over at Harry’s Place, Brett Lock is angry.

I am angry because there is more public debate about the rights of terrorists and criminals facing deportation than there seems to be for genuine, innocent and vulnerable people.

I wonder whether legitimate asylum seekers might fare better in their applications, and their welcome, if the broader public was reassured that visitors who abuse such favours could be expelled without great difficulty.