Aspals Consultancy

Background

The United Kingdom has been one of the leading nations championing the development of rights under international law to protect the weak and the vulnerable. Its commitment to the 4 Geneva Conventions, the three Protocols, customary international law and the rapidly developing area of human rights law are meant to demonstrate how seriously it takes these matters.

The armed forces of the Crown have also shown themselves to be among the best in the world. In spite of the small size of the three Services, the under-funding and equipment issues, our military personnel have proved they are a force to be reckoned with.

While the UK has always portrayed itself as playing by the rules, which by and large it has always done, unfortunately there have been incidents which reveal the flip side and serve to illustrate just how quickly an excellent reputation, earned over many years, can be destroyed almost overnight by a few bad apples who, in breach of Values and Standards, misguidedly think it honourable to commit, or protect the perpetrators of, criminal acts during military operations. V&S need to be part of the DNA of every serviceman. The cases linked here underline the importance of ensuring that fine words are matched by exemplary conduct. Sadly, there are many more cases being brought in the civilian courts under the Human Rights Act 1998, for example for judicial review, where serious allegations of detainee abuse have been made.

Three Inquiries into the behaviour of British troops have been called. The first is the Baha Musa Inquiry. The second is the Al Sweady Inquiry, whose report was published on 17th December 2014. The third inquiry is the Iraq Fatality Investigations which will examine cases where a prosecution did not result or accused were acquitted after early termination of the trial. An inquisitorial inquiry is needed in such cases to meet the requirement for public and family access. Further information can be found at the respective web sites. A further inquiry, named The Iraq Inquiry, which has no legally qualified chairman or counsel to the Inquiry, is for the purpose of identifying lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict.

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