POLITICS

High Court Calls For 'New Approach' To Iraq Abuse Allegations Against British Troops

24/05/2013 10:33 BST | Updated 24/07/2013 10:12 BST
Getty Images
British soldiers stand by debris strewn on the side of the road after a bus carrying Iraqi pilgrims crashed into back of a British Army armoured vehicle late last night west of the city of Basra, some 550kms from Baghdad on February 18, 2009. Four Iraqi pilgrims were killed when the bus ran into the back of the British armoured vehicle during a sandstorm officials said. The bus was carrying pilgrims returning from the holy city of Karbala where several million pilgrims had made the trek for the Arbaeen ceremony earlier this week which marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein in AD 680.AFP PHOTO / ESSAM AL-SUDANI (Photo credit should read ESSAM -AL-SUDANI/AFP/Getty Images)

The High Court has called for "a new approach" to an inquiry into allegations that British troops committed "terrifying acts of brutality" following the invasion of Iraq.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is investigating the claims of human rights violations through the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).

Today two judges in London rejected accusations from lawyers for 180 Iraqis that IHAT was not independent.

But they concluded that the present IHAT investigation "does not fulfil" the UK's human rights obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the duty to investigate suspicious deaths, and said changes needed to be made.

Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, who represent the Iraqis, said after the ruling: "The court has expressed its very serious concerns about allegations in these cases of the most serious kind involving murder, manslaughter, the wilful infliction of serious bodily injury, sexual indignities and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

"It has found that the Ministry of Defence have not complied with international and domestic law requiring there to be proper public scrutiny of these cases and the systemic issues arising from them.

"My clients welcome the public inquisitorial process that will now follow.

"I trust that the various and troubling systemic issues emerging from these cases will lead to further reforms following the Baha Mousa Inquiry report of September 2011.

"The Secretary of State must ensure that UK forces abroad respect and apply the rule of law."