ICC to investigate claims of U.K. ‘war crimes’ in Iraq

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has reopened an investigation into allegations of war crimes against the U.K. Army in Iraq.

Initially, ICC was stimulated to look at allegations of war crimes back in 2006, but determined that the “required gravity threshold was not met”.

However, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) had told to submit “250 pages of factual and legal analysis” on January 10 to the ICC. British Foreign Secretary William Hague had turned down calls for an ICC investigation at that time, telling the claims had “already been dealt with”.

The ECCHR says “over 400 Iraqi former detainees have brought allegations of grave mistreatment committed during the five years which the U.K. and multinational forces operated in Iraq, from 2003 to 2008”.

ECCHR together with Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) have now chosen 85 representative cases for analysis by the ICC.

A statement on the ICC website narrates that prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, took the decision to re-open a preliminary examination into abuse in Iraq by U.K. troops: “The new information received by the office alleges the responsibility of officials of the United Kingdom for war crimes involving systematic detainee abuse in Iraq from 2003 until 2008.

“The re-opened preliminary examination will analyse, in particular, alleged crimes attributed to the armed forces of the United Kingdom deployed in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.”

However, the British government completely rejects the accusations that British forces have been responsible for systemic abuse of detainees in Iraq and would co-operate with ICC and do everything required to show any allegations were being dealt with within the British justice system.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve has said: “British troops are some of the best in the world and we expect them to operate to the highest standards, in line with both domestic and international law.

“In my experience, the vast majority of our armed forces meet those expectations.

“Where allegations have been made that individuals may have broken those laws, they are being comprehensively investigated.

As the minister responsible for overseeing the UK’s prosecutors, I understand the importance of the ICC [International Criminal Court] prosecutor following the proper legal procedures when complaints are made.”

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