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Iraqi Civilians Win Compensation Following Ill-Treatment by British Forces

Some may consider all to be fair in war, but judges take a different view and adamantly uphold the duty of British forces to respect human rights, both at home and when on campaigns overseas. In a landmark ruling which will ultimately cost the Ministry of Defence (MoD) millions, the High Court upheld damages claims brought by four Iraqi citizens who were mistreated by British soldiers.

Since British forces withdrew from Iraq in 2008, following the war against Saddam Hussein, 967 claims had been lodged against the MoD by English solicitors on behalf of Iraqi citizens, alleging, amongst other things, ill-treatment and unlawful imprisonment. Given the scale of the litigation, four of those claims were tried as lead actions.

In awarding the four a total of more than £84,000 in damages, the Court found that their treatment was contrary to international humanitarian law. There had also been breaches of Articles 5 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which respectively enshrine the right to liberty and the ban on inhuman or degrading treatment.

The largest award – £33,300 – was made to a middle-aged man who was arrested at his home in Basra by British forces who were looking for his brother-in-law, who was suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. A partly assembled bomb and a large quantity of explosives were found in the house. He was first taken to a processing facility at Basra Airport before being interned in a detention facility.

Although the man’s allegations of mistreatment were greatly exaggerated, the Court found that he had been beaten on the upper back and arms, probably with rifle butts. He had also been punched in the face by British soldiers and suffered a painful finger injury. He had been completely deprived of sight and hearing by being made to wear blacked-out goggles and ear defenders for most of the first 12 hours after his arrest and had been subjected to deliberate sleep deprivation and harsh interrogation techniques. He had been unlawfully detained for 33 days.



 
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