Members, relatives and legal experts have expressed deep concern over the comments of Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, who suggest that British troops must violate the law by committing selective extrajudicial killings of British jihadists.
Labor MP and former paratrooper Dan Jarvis said that Williamson's comments that the British who fought for the Islamic State abroad should be persecuted and killed were "morally, legally and practically incorrect" and contravened British policy of long-standing
"Your statement implies a desire for extrajudicial killing is part of the UK's security policy," Jarvis told The Guardian. "That is such a radical departure from everything we should value, and the way we should behave, even it is difficult to tolerate."
"Such a policy would not only break the Geneva convention and the law of the United Kingdom, but also undermined our society and the way we defend it. "
Jarvis said that Williamson's comments to the Daily Mail could undermine the instructions to the troops under intense pressure." We could no longer turn to our troops and demand them, often in the most difficult circumstances, that they obey the law of armed conflict, "he said.
" We could no longer turn to other nations and ask them to end the extrajudicial killing of their people; and we could no longer appeal to the British public and ask them to trust in the rule of law, when we, the legislators, are not prepared to do it ourselves.
"The rule of law is key both for the society we are defending and how we defend it, if our response to terrorism is to destroy human rights and the rule of law, terrorists have won."
The new defense secretary told the Daily Mail: "A dead terrorist can not cause any harm to Britain.
" I do not think any terrorist, whether they come from this country or from another country, ever I should go back to this country. We should do everything we can to destroy and eliminate that threat. "
Other politicians also lined up to condemn Williamson's comments, as well as John Letts, the father of Jack Letts, born in Oxford and currently accused by the Kurdish authorities of being a member of the Islamic State.
John Letts said that the UK authorities were not willing to help him return his son to Britain, not even to face charges in the UK He said Williamson's comments They were "scandalous … it's extremist, as far as I'm concerned. I do not think we just murder people. We are supposed to have British values, are these British values? "
He continued:" We are simply abandoning a thousand years of the Magna Carta and freedom. We just follow the American approach of firing first, we ask questions later, and it's just wrong. They are normalizing it. It's as if they were heating up the Mafia. "
John Woodcock, chairman of the Labor Party's foreign affairs committee, said that Williamson's comments also appeared to be in direct contravention of Operation Consent, the government policy that deals with with the returning jihadists rehabilitating those for whom there is not enough evidence to prosecute.
"If it is not slapped, any future enemy of Britain could say:" Why should we respect the Geneva convention on soldiers? " British captured when the British do not respect it for their own citizens? "He said.
Paddy Ashdown, the former Democratic liberal leader who served in the Royal Marines and later as an official intelligence, said that the defense secretaries "should be measured, careful, judicious and thoughtful about what they say, not apprentice cadets of Donald Trump. "
Party defense spokesman and former leader Menzies Campbell said the comments appeared to "support a clear violation of humanitarian law." He said any member of the military who followed the council could be subjected to court martial and prosecution.
Downing Street did not directly defend Williamson, but said that British jihadists should expect to be attacked. "The government's position on this has been clarified several times in recent months, and that is if you travel to Iraq and Syria, and if you are fighting with our enemies there, then you become a legitimate target," he said. the spokesman of the prime minister.
The spokesman said there were policies in place to target foreign fighters seeking to return. "In cases where people return to the United Kingdom, we are clear that they must face the consequences of their actions and that would include an investigation by the police and possible criminal prosecution."
Williamson's remarks also put him at odds with Max Hill, the independent reviewer of the anti-terrorist legislation, who recently said that the United Kingdom could try to reintegrate young and naïve jihadists who wanted to return to the United Kingdom.
It is believed that more than 800 British citizens have gone to fight for Isis in Iraq and Syria, including teenagers, women and young families. Hill said he believed there should be room for individuals like the three teenagers who traveled to Syria from a school in East London.
"Even such adolescents would not escape prosecution if there is evidence that they have committed serious crimes, but if not, we should surely consider their return in circumstances where they were simply brainwashed, as immature and vulnerable adolescents" , wrote.
On Thursday, Hill declined to comment directly on Williamson's statements, but added: "Criminal prosecution is unavoidable in most cases where UK citizens return and [there is] evidence of having committed serious crimes "
Director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, said that Williamson's comments could encourage the violation of international law. "It is disturbing that the defense secretary should speak in this loose and cheerful manner," he said.
"In all circumstances, it is absolutely forbidden to deliberately kill combatants who have surrendered or who have been captured or incapacitated, violate the laws of war, as well as international human rights laws, and it is a crime of war "