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Dossier on ‘abuse’ by UK forces in Iraq filed with ICC

The 250-page dossier details allegations of beatings, electrocution, mock executions and sexual assault

Published: Updated:

A complaint filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Saturday accuses British forces of abusing and killing detainees held in their custody in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.

The 250-page dossier details allegations of beatings, electrocution, mock executions and sexual assault drawn from the cases of more than 400 Iraqis represented by human rights lawyers, The Independent reported on Sunday.

British army chief General Sir Peter Wall and Geoff Hoon and ex-Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, are among those named at in the complaint.

Lawyers argue that they represent “thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

They describe alleged incidents ranging from “hooding” prisoners to burning them and threatening to kill them, as well as submitting them to “cultural and religious humiliation.”

The formal complaint to the ICC was lodged on Saturday by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). It calls for further investigation of the alleged war crimes under Article 15 of the Rome statute.

PIL is acting for more than 1,069 former detainees and surviving relatives who say they or their relatives were unlawfully detained, abused or killed by UK service personnel in Iraq, reported The Independent.

The firm represented the family of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel receptionist who was kicked and beaten to death whilst in British Army custodyin 2003.

The dossier accords blame to high level officials, saying “those who bear the greatest responsibility” for alleged war crimes “include individuals at the highest levels” of the British army and political system.

It adds that “civilian superiors knew or consciously disregarded information at their disposal, which clearly indicated that UK services personnel were committing war crimes in Iraq.”

A Ministry of Defense spokesman responded by saying: “These matters are either under thorough investigation or have been dealt with through various means including through the Iraq historic allegations team, independent public inquiries, the UK and European courts and in parliament.

“As such, further action through the ICC is unnecessary when the issues and allegations are already known to the UK government, action is in hand and the UK courts have already issued judgments.

“Should we be approached by the ICC, we will take the opportunity to explain the very extensive work under way to deal with historic allegations of abuse.

“We reject the suggestion that the UK's armed forces – who operate in line with domestic and international law – have systematically tortured detainees. But of course the UK government regrets the small number of cases where abuses have taken place.

“Wherever allegations have been substantiated we have compensated victims and their families.”