A three-day hearing at the High Court will determine whether a public inquiry into systemic abuse should be launched.
The War in Iraq may have ended but there are still ongoing court cases regarding events during the war. The British High Court has heard allegations of sustained brutality against Iraqi civilians.Those accused are members of the British armed forces.
Lawyers representing 192 civilian Iraqis have called for an independent inquiry into their treatment. In particular, they want an investigation into British detention practices between 2003 and 2008. There are allegations that the 192 Iraqis were mistreated after they were detained.
Investigations by the MoD into the events are ongoing. The lawyers in this case have argued that inquiry is not independent enough to reach a fair conclusion. The judges at the High Court, Sir John Thomas (President of the Queen's Bench Division) and Mr Justice Silber, will make a ruling on the MoD inquiry and also decide whether 'alleged mistreatment was "systemic"'.
These 192 civilians are just the 'tip of the iceberg' and there are hundreds of pending claims. Some cases are under negotiation. 200 claims have already been settled costing the UK £15m. Phil Shiner, from Public Interest Lawyers, PIL, is representing the 192. He told ITV News that there are "tens of thousands" of allegations of mistreatment against the British forces, from "hundreds and hundreds of people."
The BBC reports, The hearing before two judges is expected to last three days. As well as unlawful killings, there are claims of beatings, hooding, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, including being made to watch pornography. Women, the elderly and children were among the victims, according to an 82-page document presented in court. Lawyers said they were still collecting allegations of abuse almost a decade after the invasion of Iraq, and had hundreds of further claims in the pipeline.
The MoD confirmed that should claims of systemic abuse be discovered they might hold a more 'broad-ranging inquiry'. Lawyer Phil Shiner said some of the claims are 'truly shocking'. He gave examples of 'the unlawful killing of a 62-year-old grandmother, an eight-year-old girl playing with friends, and a man shot as he slept'.
Public Interest Lawyers have requested an independent judge-led inquiry into the conduct of UK forces in Iraq. Philip Hammond, the British Defence Secretary, has said that the claims of abuse will be investigated by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which includes members of the Royal Navy Police (RNP). An earlier appeal for a more independent inquiry resulted in Royal Military Police being replaced by Royal Navy Police officers.
The UK Joint Forward Interrogation Team (JFIT) included Royal Navy officers. Little wonder that Public Interest Lawyers are pushing for an independent inquiry.
Outside of court, a ministry spokeswoman said: "The establishment now of a wide-ranging public inquiry to consider alleged systemic issues would be premature and disproportionate.
Other requests for a public inquiry into abuse by members of the British armed forces have been denied.
The Ministry of Defence claims that the armed forces have learned lessons. The necessary changes are being made. However without a public inquiry that will never be known really, will it? If they have nothing to hide why the worry about a public inquiry?
Based in Yorkshire, in the middle of the UK, almost, this blogger offers her own unique perspective on life in GB
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