UK war crimes alleged in Iraq

ESTELLE SHIRBON
Last updated 08:29 13/01/2014
British Foreign Secretary William Hague
Reuters
UNNECESSARY: British Foreign Secretary William Hague claims Britain's willingness to investigate the allegations meant action by the International Criminal Court was unnecessary.

Relevant offers

Europe

Poland '99 percent' certain it has located buried Nazi 'treasure' train Four arrested over truck with 71 corpses as migrant crisis intensifies Austrian truck horror: 71 migrants likely suffocated; arrests made Boat packed with migrants sinks off Libya; 82 dead, 100 more missing Judge Vassiliki Thanou sworn in as Greece's first female prime minister What killed Knut? Riddle of famous polar bear's death solved MH17 relatives invited to hear official report findings first UK immigration at record high as topic is hotly debated 'Irish boxer' takes on mob of angry Istanbul shopkeepers Scottish fisherman builds 7-metre Lego model of famous battleship

Human rights lawyers and campaigners have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate allegations of torture by British troops in Iraq, a move which the UK government dismissed as unnecessary.

A Berlin-based human rights group and a British law firm have submitted what they describe as 250 pages of analysis to the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor requesting action on alleged abuses between 2003 and 2008.

The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) said in a press release posted on the ECCHR website that there had been "systemic abuse" of Iraqi detainees during the British presence in Iraq which met the threshold of war crimes.

An ICC spokeswoman declined immediate comment on the submission.

The ICC, which receives dozens of submissions every year and takes very few of them further, can only act where national jurisdictions are unable or unwilling to investigate alleged crimes.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain's willingness to investigate the allegations meant action by the ICC was unnecessary.

"The British armed forces uphold high standards ... so we reject any allegations of systematic abuse. But where there are substantiated allegations of things going wrong these things have been or are being investigated," Hague told Sky News.

"That does not require references to the International Criminal Court ... This is being dealt with properly within the United Kingdom through a very detailed and exhaustive process."

PUBLIC INQUIRIES

The ECCHR and PIL said more than 400 Iraqi former detainees had made allegations of grave mistreatment, of which 85 had been chosen as "representative cases" in the submission to the ICC.

The two organisations said they wanted the ICC to open formal investigations into senior figures at the Ministry of Defence who "knew or should have known of the widespread patterns of abuse, and turned a blind eye to them", and named former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

Hoon could not be immediately reached for comment.

The ministry said alleged abuses had been or were being investigated through the British and European law courts, through public inquiries, in parliament and through a dedicated publicly funded body called the Iraq Historic Allegations Team.

"Should we be approached by the ICC, we will take the opportunity to explain the very extensive work underway to deal with historic allegations of abuse," the ministry said in a statement.

Ad Feedback

PIL has played a key role in a number of court cases involving alleged British abuses in Iraq.

It has also been instrumental in bringing about several major public inquiries, including the ongoing Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations that British troops executed and tortured Iraqis in the aftermath of a battle in May 2004. That inquiry is due to present its findings at the end of this year.

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content