Hundreds of new cases involving allegations of torture of Iraqi citizens, including men, women and children, by British soldiers are set to be brought before the International Criminal Courts in The Hague. A new dossier, containing claims of torture and abuse between 2003 and 2008, will be sent to the ICC and also to the Ministry of Defence’s Service Prosecuting Authority this week.
The dossier will be added to a number of extant claims already being investigated by the ICC. It comes ahead of an official report, due to be published on Wednesday, into allegations that British soldiers unlawfully abused and tortured Iraqis in 2004, the Independent on Sunday has reported.
Within its pages are numerous claims that beatings, torture and abuse took place long after British ministers claimed that such techniques were not being used. For example, in May 2005, then defence secretary Geoff Hoon told MPs that hooding had not been used since 2004, yet there are 70 allegations of hooding, dating between June 2004 and September 2008, according to the documents.
Other cases include:
– A 34 year old governmental worker who was allegedly “repeatedly beaten” and “electrocuted”. According to the dossier he suffered “severe psychological injuries as a result of his treatment…. He set himself alight and killed himself approximately one year after his release”.
– A 29 year old Iraqi police officer who died at home in front of his family when soldiers “forced his head into a bucket of cold water a number of times. He stopped breathing and died. His wife and children witnessed the soldiers killing him”. The document adds: “The head of the police department requested an explanation…. British forces admitted they mistakenly killed the deceased”.
– A 60 year old fireman who was beaten unconscious while his wife and daughters “were punched, slapped… and beaten with rifles” during a raid on their house.
Phil Shiner, a solicitor with law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), which is handling the claims has said: “These cases involving the most serious human rights violations imaginable pose immensely difficult questions. The UK mindset in Iraq appears to be one of savage brutality and a sadistic inhumanity, irrespective of whether it was women, children or old men being tortured, abused or callously subjected to lethal force. The systemic issues must now be dealt with in public.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson responded: “We are concerned that hundreds of claims are coming forward many years after the alleged events in Iraq, which must raise questions about their credibility, particularly since no supporting evidence has been provided in many cases.”
However, Mr Shiner rebutted this, saying: “They knew about all these cases all along and always had a legal duty to investigate, irrespective of any complaints.”
The techniques are similar to those known to have been used by the CIA in Iraq. Prime Minister David Cameron is coming under increasing pressure to order a full judicial enquiry into what Britain knew about the torture techniques being used by the CIA and other allies involved in the fight against jihad in the first decade of this century.
Angus Robertson MP, the defence spokesman for the Scottish National Party said: “Despite the appalling findings of the US Senate report about inhumane treatment of detainees, we have seen no urgency from the UK government to get to the truth on this matter. A full judicial inquiry must now be established to determine what the UK government knew about the flights that passed through airports in the UK, including Scotland, and whether ministers were aware of the human rights abuses that we now know may have occurred in this country.”
However, the CIA has defended its use of torture to elicit information from Iraqi prisoners. Speaking last Thursday, John Brennan, director of the CIA said “Our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation programme produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.”
And on Wednesday, the former Vice President Dick Cheney said “The men and women of the CIA did exactly what we wanted. We said we’ve got to go use enhanced techniques… and we’re going to find out. We’ve got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who’s the mastermind of 9/11, and he is in our possession, we know he’s the architect. And what are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say “please tell us what you know”? Of course not.”