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British Army accused of recent abuses in Iraq

Leigh Day & Co has served a letter of claim on the MoD on behalf of five Iraqis

Photo: istock

18 November 2008

On 14 November 2008, Leigh Day & Co served a Letter of Claim on the Ministry of Defence on behalf of five Iraqi citizens who allege that they were subjected to banned “conditioning techniques” by the British Army as recently as April 2007, including hooding and other sensory deprivation, the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation and food deprivation as well as repeated severe assaults during their capture and detention by British Forces in southern Iraq.

Our clients state that on the evening of the 31st March 2007 they were celebrating the birth of a new baby at the family home. At around midnight British soldiers broke down the door and raided the house. The house was ransacked and the men were detained. They were hooded, cuffed and transported to a British Military Facility at Basra Airport. The Claimants allege that during the journey they were severely assaulted by the soldiers, including being kicked, punched and beaten with rifle butts.

One of our clients, a 70 year old man, was dragged from his bed in a state of undress in front of women and children in his family, a cause of great cultural and personal humiliation. He too was badly beaten by the soldiers.

At the detention centre, the Claimants were interrogated at regular intervals throughout the night, forced to maintain painful stress positions and subjected to sleep deprivation. They were all eventually released without charge, some after several months in detention, despite making numerous complaints about their treatment to the Royal Military Police. Our clients appear to have suffered multiple injuries, including significant psychiatric problems, as a result of the incident.

The use of the five particular interrogation techniques were banned from use by the British Army in 1972. These were: hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and food deprivation. However, it emerged, following the death of Baha Mousa in British custody in Basra in September 2003, that the use of the banned techniques in Iraq had been widespread.

Our new clients’ accounts suggest that despite the enormous concerns raised following the death of Baha Mousa, and steps purportedly taken to re-implement the banning of the unlawful techniques, they continued to be employed on the ground in Iraq by the British Army at least into April 2007.

Sapna Malik said: “Since the death of Baha Musa the British Army has claimed that the ban on the use of the five techniques has been rigorously implemented. The treatment suffered by our clients would suggest that is far from being the case. It is vital that these allegations are urgently investigated and the use of banned interrogation techniques by the Army is brought to an immediate end.”

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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