Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 14. 1970

Dunkirk and the Terrorists

Dunkirk and the Terrorists

If the basis of society is just and sound, democratic and secure there is less need in the society for panic and emergency decrees Our government and particularly our judiciary could take courage from the situation in England in 1941. At that stage the Nazis had captured France and were victorious in Europe arid on the shores of the Channel opposite England. The Luftwaffe was raining destruction on English cities and towns. Dunkirk was branded in every man's mind, and England was faced with a real threat of defeat. In this emergency a British Court (the House of Lords) was then called upon to interpret legislation affecting personal liberty. This is what Lord Atkin said in the case of Liversage v Anderson (1941 3 All. E.R. at p. 361:)

"In England amidst the clash of arms the laws are not silent. They may be changed, but they speak the same language in war as in peace It has always been one of the pillars of freedom, one of the principles of liberty for which, on recent authority, we arc now fighting, that the judges are no respecters of persons, and stand between the subject and any attempted encroachment on his liberty by the executive, alert to see that any coercive action is justified in law."

In South Africa, both the government and the Courts were quick to surrender our 'pillars of freedom" and "principles of liberty" when faced with the threat of not even 1,000 terrorists probably ill-trained but some armed who crossed our borders into South West Africa and who also infiltrated into Rhodesia. Is this the calibre of our courage? When sentencing the South West African terrorists (charged under the Terrorism Act) the Judge in passing sentence said: Their actions were feeble and without the slightest hope of success Furthermore, the Judge treated the offences as Common Law offences and in fact the accused could easily have been charged with the Common Law offence of treason. It is obvious that our faith in the strength of the basic foundations of our society is insecure and ridden with fear.