UK Defence Ministry admits soldiers unlawfully abused Iraqi detainees

[JURIST] The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) [official website] has admitted the unlawful abuse of nine Iraqi detainees, solicitors for the detainees announced [press release] Tuesday. As part of the settlement, the detainees are to receive damages [Independent report] of as much as £1 million (US $1.79 million). While acknowledging that the detainees' treatment was unlawful, the MOD did not admit to specific conduct. It also denied that the UK Human Rights Act or the European Convention on Human Rights [text] applied to "Camp Breadbasket," the humanitarian aid distribution center near Basra where the abuse occurred. The Iraqis filed suit in the UK High Court of Justice, alleging that members of the 1st Royal Regiment of Fusiliers [military website] had committed the abuse in 2003 after making the arrests as part of an anti-looting operation. Sapna Malik, who represents the Iraqis, said:

It is good that the MOD has admitted that the treatment received by each of the Claimants was unlawful, although its refusal to accept that Camp Breadbasket falls within the ambit of the Human Rights Act is frustrating. The maltreatment of the men was hideous, humiliating and degrading and the legacy lingers with them to this day. We hope that today’s admission marks the MoD’s willingness to resolve the claims fairly so that the men can try to finally move forward with their lives.
The MOD has requested that the Iraqis provide additional information, including medical reports and witness statements, before it makes payments. BBC News has more.

Photographs of the abuse at Camp Breadbasket emerged during 2005 court-martial proceedings that resulted in the convictions of four soldiers, who were sentenced to prison [JURIST reports] and dishonorably discharged. This July, the MOD reached a settlement [JURIST report] with nine other Iraqis who were abused at the camp, agreeing to pay £2.83 million in compensation, in addition to apologizing and admitting liability. That settlement included the family of Baha Mousa [BBC report; JURIST news archive], a tenth man who died in custody. Also in July, a report released [JURIST report] by Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights found that UK soldiers may have used officially-banned tactics to interrogate Iraqi detainees.


 

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