UK Ministry of Defence agrees to compensate Iraqi torture victims
The family of an Iraqi hotel receptionist who died after being tortured over a period of 36 hours while detained by UK troops in Basra, Iraq, will be paid compensation by the UK Ministry of Defence. Almost £3 million will be paid in recognition of the grave human rights violations to which he, and others detained at the same time as him, were subjected by members of the UK armed forces. Baha Mousa, a 26-year-old father of two, died in September 2003. A post-mortem examination revealed 93 separate injuries on his body. A number of Iraqis detained at around the same time as him were also tortured and ill-treated. It was announced on Thursday, 10 July, that the amount of compensation paid will total £2.83 million ($5.59 million), to be divided between the family of Baha Mousa and nine other men who were detained alongside him. According to the lawyers who acted for him in the compensation claim, Baha Mousa’s father, Colonel Daoud Mousa, a former colonel in the Iraqi police force, said about the compensation award: “The death of my son is with me every day of my life. Today’s settlement will ease a little of that pain and will go some way to enabling his children and my grandchildren to rebuild their lives.” Amnesty International said that it considers that this award of compensation is a necessary, although extremely belated, acknowledgement of the grave human rights violations to which Baha Mousa and those detained alongside him were subjected, and a step towards making reparation for those violations. Amnesty International has been campaigning for the UK to hold a genuinely full, independent, impartial and thorough investigation into all of the circumstances of the torture and death of Baha Mousa, and the torture of other Iraqi nationals held alongside him. In May 2008 the Ministry of Defence finally announced that a public inquiry would be held. The terms of reference of the inquiry are yet to be announced, but it has been confirmed that it will be held within the framework of the Inquiries Act 2005. Amnesty International has long considered that any inquiry held under this legislation into an allegation of serious human rights violations will not be independent enough from the government for the inquiry to meet the standards required by international human rights law.