Former soldiers angered by UK plans for Iraq war crimes ‘amnesty’

Combat Soldierssource: Middle East Eye
published: 3 July 2020

Concerns are growing among human rights groups and ex-soldiers about UK government plans for a new law to protect British soldiers from prosecution for any acts of murder or torture committed after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The draft law, known as the Overseas Operations Bill, proposes to prevent service personnel from being prosecuted for any crime committed more than five years earlier, other than in exceptional circumstances.

It would also protect British forces from prosecution in the UK for war crimes or crimes against humanity once those crimes were more than five years old.

The measures have alarmed NGOs who fear that any weakening of the criminal measures against torture would undermine the UK’s commitment to the Geneva Conventions.

Redress, a London-based charity that works with torture victims, says there is a risk that abuses will be “swept under the carpet”.

The bill risks creating an effective amnesty for serious offences including torture, according to Chris Esdaile, the organisation’s legal adviser.

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