Letter: Tyrant on trial

Click to follow
Sir: I have written to the Home Secretary urging him to allow the extradition process in relation to General Pinochet to proceed.

The STUC has a long history of involvement with the cause of democracy in Chile, going back to the period in the aftermath of the 1973 coup when we facilitated the resettlement in Scotland of Chilean refugees, and the Rolls Royce workforce refused to work on jet engines destined for the Chilean air force.

The decision of the House of Lords that Senator Pinochet does not enjoy immunity on the basis of his having been a head of state is highly significant for the way in which legality operates internationally.

There have been calls for General Pinochet to be allowed to return to Chile on compassionate grounds because of his age. I will resist the temptation to refer at length to the thousands who have had no opportunity to grow old because they died on his orders, and restrict myself to the clear argument that compassion, if it is to be exercised, should come at the stage of sentencing, not prior to any trial.

The decision of the House of Lords has given hope and encouragement to the many people, not just in the United Kingdom, who have felt that redress through the rule of law is exercised only by the powerful against the powerless. .


General Secretary

Scottish Trades Union Congress