[JURIST] The UK Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday unanimously rejected claims [judgment, PDF] by approximately 600 Iraqi civilians that they were extrajudicially detained and physically abused by British forces. The suit, brought by 14 “lead claimants” representing approximately 600 civilians against the Ministry of Defence [official website], alleged that between 2003 and 2009, British forces abused and unlawfully detained Iraqi civilians. The claims, while against British forces, are governed by Iraqi law, and the court applied the Law of Limitation, which meant that some facts relevant in Iraq were not relevant in the British system.
This is the latest development in a controversy that has carried on for more than a decade. In January the head of the UK’s Iraq Historic Allegations Team [official website], charged with looking into alleged abuses committed during the war in Iraq, said that UK soldiers may face prosecution for war crimes [JURIST report]. In 2005 a prosecutor argued at the opening of a much-anticipated [JURIST report] British court-martial that seven British paratroopers patrolling in southern Iraq in 2003 killed an Iraqi civilian and abused others after stopping a truck carrying them three weeks after hostilities had officially ended. This was the first trial of British soldiers for the killing of an Iraqi civilian. In 2007 the British Ministry of Defence said that nine soldiers videotaped beating Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] in an incident in southern Iraq in 2004 would not face charges before military courts-martial. Then in 2008 it was found that British troops may have tortured and executed up to 20 Iraqi civilians after a 2004 clash between insurgents and a British convoy in Majar al Kabir [JURIST report], The evidence included testimony from several witnesses, death certificates, and video footage of mutilated bodies.