Monday, September 13, 2010

No justice for Iraq

Like the US, the UK government claims that it does not tolerate torture and war crimes by its soldiers. The military will supposedly investigate allegations of such crimes, and those with a case to answer will be put on trial.


British soldiers and airmen are suspected of being responsible for the murder and manslaughter of a number of Iraqi civilians in addition to the high-profile case of Baha Mousa, defence officials have admitted.

The victims include a man who was allegedly kicked to death on board an RAF helicopter, another who was shot by a soldier of the Black Watch after being involved in a traffic incident, and a 19-year-old who drowned after allegedly being pushed into a river by soldiers serving with the Royal Engineers.

Military police recommended that some of the alleged killers be put on trial for murder and manslaughter, but military prosecutors declined to do so after concluding that there was no realistic prospect of convictions. The Ministry of Defence and the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) have repeatedly declined to offer detailed explanations for those decisions. The MoD has also been reluctant to offer anything other than sketchy details of some of the investigations.

It is difficult to interpret this as anything other than the tacit condoning of war crimes by the UK military. And under international law, that makes the military and political authorities who are failing to prosecute these crimes complicit in them, and liable to prosecution themselves.