Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Iraqis lose torture claim probe bid

A group of Iraqi civilians have lost their High Court bid for a fresh public inquiry into allegations of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment by British soldiers and interrogators in Iraq.

Two judges upheld Defence Secretary Liam Fox's refusal to order an immediate, wide-ranging investigation into whether there was systemic abuse, as opposed to ill treatment by "a few bad apples".

More than 200 Iraqis have complained their ill treatment occurred between March 2003 and December 2008 in British-controlled detention facilities in Iraq, in the aftermath of the invasion.

Ali Zaki Mousa, from Basra, the lead claimant, alleges he endured months of beatings and other abuse in the custody of British soldiers in 2006-07.

Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Silber ruled that, due to other investigations already under way, they were satisfied human rights laws did not require the Defence Secretary to order an immediate new inquiry.

They warned it was possible it might be "required in due course" - but it was a matter which could "lawfully be left for decision at a future date". But the judges dismissed an application for judicial review brought on behalf of the legally-aided Iraqis by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL).

PIL's legal team had argued on their behalf that the investigations already under way were insufficient to meet the UK's obligations to fully investigate under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment.

Lord Justice Richards said the Defence Secretary had "made clear that he is very concerned about the allegations and extremely anxious to establish whether they are well founded and, if they are, to ensure that lessons are learned for the future."

The panel would consider the results of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team investigations, and any criminal or disciplinary proceedings brought in any of the cases. It would also consider any other judicial decisions concerning the cases, "with a view to identifying any wider issues which should be brought to the attention of the (Ministry of Defence) or ministers personally".

The judge said the Defence Secretary had also pointed to the fact that there already exist two "significant public inquiries" into specific allegations of ill-treatment of detainees in Iraq - the Baha Mousa inquiry, due to report in early 2011, and the Al Sweady inquiry which was at an early stage.


From Belfast Telegraph