27 October 2010
The recent release of almost 400,000 records, by WikiLeaks, has once again highlighted the dreadful conditions faced many by ordinary Iraqi civilians between 2003 and 2009. In addition to the large number of civilian deaths noted in the Wikileaks release, the records also reveal that the Multi-National Forces (and Iraqi Forces) were responsible for the widespread ill-treatment and torture of ordinary Iraqi civilians. Innocent civilians report that Multi- National Forces carried out:-
- Unlawful arrests;
- Brutal assaults (including sexual assault and rape);
- Torture whilst in detention;
- Prolonged and unlawful detention.
The now infamous death of Baha Mousa, the Iraqi hotel receptionist who was tortured to death by the British troops in Basra in September 2003, has become the best known example of British torture in Iraq but it is fast becoming clear that such abuse was in fact widespread throughout the country. Leigh Day & Co represented the Baha Mousa family in order to obtain compensation for his children who have been left without a parent. In addition, together with Public Interest Lawyers, Leigh, Day & Co has represented the victims throughout the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry.
During their detention the victims were subjected to the banned “five techniques” which included hooding, placing them in stress positions, exposing them to white noise and depriving them of food and sleep. The victims were subjected to these interrogation techniques continuously and were also kicked and beaten repeatedly throughout their detention in Basra. The post mortem on Baha Mousa’s body revealed that he had suffered 93 separate injuries. The other detainees all suffered extensive bruising and fractures and some faced life threatening injuries.
Importantly the use of the “five techniques” had been explicitly banned by the British government in 1972. Edward Heath had undertaken to Parliament that the techniques would never be used by the British Army in the future and in 1978 the British Government gave the same unequivocal undertaking to the European Court of Human Rights. The Inquiry, therefore, examined the degree to which the use of these unlawful “conditioning techniques” had been authorised by the Army chain of command.
As a result, the Inquiry heard evidence from a vast range of military, civil servant and political witnesses, including the former Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon and the former Armed forces minister, Adam Ingram. In addition, the Iraqi victims all came to London to give oral evidence to the Inquiry and to listen to the evidence of soldiers.
The Inquiry is not due to report until early next year but it has already been conceded by the MOD that the Intelligence Corps at Chicksands taught unlawful interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation, prolonging the shock of capture and the use of “harsh” interrogation techniques.
Leigh Day & Co currently represents over 250 Iraqi civilians who allege that they have suffered (i) unlawful arrests (ii) brutal assaults (iii) torture whilst in detention and (iv) prolonged and unlawful detention at the hands of the British Forces.
The High Court of Justice has set down a timetable for these claims and ordered that the Ministry of Defence (“MoD”) disclose the records it holds for our clients. We expect to receive tens of thousands of documents. We are due to go back before the Court in December 2010.
Whilst we hope that those MoD records are not as damning as the information released by Wikileaks, unfortunately the evidence provided by the Claimants suggests otherwise.
For more information on please contact Sapna Malik
, Gene Matthews
or Daniel Leader
on 020 7650 1200.
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