Human Rights? What Human Rights?
By Roy Oswick
When I read nowadays about the number of prisoners that appeal against sentences because they feel that their HUMAN RIGHTS have been offended I am always reminded of an incident many years ago that adequately sums up the level of HUMAN RIGHTS that existed in the 60’s and 70’s, especially with regard to Military Law and the methods used to determine guilt or innocence.
In 1963 I was based on detachment from 101 Pro Coy Dusseldorf to HQ ADVANCED BASE PROVOST SECTION, Grobbendonk, Belgium. There were a large number of troops based there as it was home to the huge RAOC Depots of 15 ABOD and 16 BVD, who supplied the whole of BAOR. Our duties were all General Duties tasks including traffic and Absentees and deserter duties, (more of that at some other time).
Anyway on this particular day, myself and one Samuel Moore were sent to the scene of a traffic accident involving a British Army vehicle and a Belgian car. It was pouring with rain and the roads which were mainly cobbled were like glass.
As we were finishing the paperwork around a bend in the road came a Belgian car. It was a little Citroen 2CV and it was moving in a very fast and very erratic manner. As it approached us the driver must have caught sight of the Gendarmes who were still with us, and hit the brakes. This did nothing to slow him down and he careered along and only came to a halt after he had smashed into the front of our RMP Landrover causing considerable damage. The gendarmes acted immediately and dragged the poor guy from the car they then pronounced him to be as drunk as a lord, threw him into their car and left.
Later by way of our interpreter we managed to get all of the details required for me to submit my report. The Section Sgt was less than happy as the Landrover had only recently been acquired as a replacement for one of the dear old Austin Champs. In due course I was required to attend a hearing at 101 Coy HQ concerning the accident and was told by the RSM that even though I had nothing to fear, for administration purposes I had been charged with the good old “In any way offends against good order and military discipline” by allowing damage to be caused to a Military Vehicle!!!!!
After a few minutes the RSM duly marched me into the OC’S Office where Major Roy Love was waiting to hear the case and make judgement. I was confident that there was no case for me to answer and simply told what had happened and asked the OC to refer to the Gendarmes reports that supported my story.
The OC read through the reports and after a few minutes looked up from his desk and said to me, “CLEARLY THERE IS NO GUILT ATTACHED TO YOU IN THIS INCIDENT AND I FIND YOU NOT GUILTY” Even though this was what I had expected to hear I have to say that I felt a real sense of relief. This was quickly curtailed however for just as I had expected to be told to march out, The OC spoke again, “However, we have received a directive from the APM BAOR in which he has said that RMP Vehicles are currently involved in far too many accidents and other motoring offences and that every incident must be dealt with severely, so you will pay £5 TOWARDS THE COST OF DAMAGE, march him out RSM”
“GOOD LAD” said the RSM, “Drive carefully back to Belgium”
Are HUMAN RIGHTS CASES HEARD IN RETROSPECT?
I must have a case surely!!!!!