Britain, Lawfare and the ICC

(Gatestone Institute) Richard Kemp - The British government should deny its enemies the opportunities for exploitation presented by the International Criminal Court and withdraw now from the process. Any other course would represent an unprecedented and historic betrayal. Today the United Kingdom sits alongside Libya, Darfur and Sudan as the International Criminal Court (ICC) launches an investigation into alleged war crimes by the British Army in Iraq. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's preliminary examination will look into allegations that British troops abused detainees during the Iraq conflict between 2003 and 2008. The allegations in front of Bensouda are contained in a 250-page file of supposed evidence of the "systematic use of brutal violence, that at times resulted in the death of detainees, while in the custody of UK Services personnel." British troops are accused of "brutality combined with cruelty and forms of sadism, including sexual abuse and religious humiliation." These allegations have been made jointly by Phil Shiner of the British law firm Public Interest Lawyers and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a pressure group that has in the past sought to indict American politicians for war crimes, including President George W. Bush. Shiner has made a career of lawfare against British forces. With tiresome predictability, he has also had Israel in his sights. On the basis of thirty years' service with the British armed forces, I very much doubt that there was systematic abuse of prisoners by British soldiers in Iraq. And the idea that generals or politicians in London would have sanctioned any such abuse is equally improbable. If anything, the UK Ministry of Defence has usually erred too far on the side of caution and the rigid application of human rights law in its direction of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - sometimes to the extent that British troops have felt their own lives to be at undue risk. Col. Richard Kemp is former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.

2014-05-23 00:00:00

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