Jail Over War
New Zealand doctor Malcolm Kendall-Smith may go to jail for refusing to obey the orders of the British Royal Air force and return to duty in Iraq. After already serving two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan Kendall-Smith is refusing to return on the grounds that the Air Force cannot order him to be participate in an unlawful war. This defence stems from a soldier’s duty to disobey illegal commands, a responsibility that was made clear after the Nuremberg trials established that simply following orders was not a defence for illegal behaviour. This is the first case to test the constitutional legality of the war and given the complexities of armed conflict laws, it will certainly not be a simple matter. If convicted Kendall-Smith could face a jail term, a price he is reportedly prepared to pay. His lawyers have said “He is not arguing that he is a conscientious objector. He is arguing that the war is manifestly unlawful.” Kendall-Smith holds dual New Zealand and British citizenship, and is five years into a contract with the Royal British Air Force. Born in Australia to New Zealand parents, he grew up in Dunedin and completed his medical degree and postgraduate qualification in Philosophy at Otago University.