ICC decision on UK military in Iraq rewards obstructionism

Responding to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor’s decision to conclude the preliminary examination into allegations of war crimes by the UK military in Iraq, Matthew Cannock, Head of Amnesty International’s Centre for International Justice, said: 

‘The Prosecutor’s damning report found that the UK armed forces committed war crimes in Iraq in 2003, including torture and rape, and that victims had been deprived of justice by the UK authorities.

The Prosecutor’s decision to conclude the examination provides a road-map for obstructionism. It rewards bad faith and delays brought about by the failure of the UK military and authorities to conduct independent and impartial investigations into allegations in the immediate aftermath of the conflict in Iraq.

The Prosecutor’s decision to conclude the examination provides a road-map for obstructionism. It rewards bad faith and delays brought about by the failure of the UK military and authorities to conduct independent and impartial investigations into allegations in the immediate aftermath of the conflict in Iraq
Matthew Cannock, Head of Amnesty International’s Centre for International Justice

‘After ten years of assessment, the ICC has accepted a situation where the UK undertook no prosecutions, even when its military had committed war crimes.

This decision in no way absolves the UK of its international obligations to undertake effective and robust investigations and prosecutions into all allegations of crimes under international law, and to provide reparations and effective remedies to victims of war crimes committed by its military.

This decision in no way absolves the UK of its international obligations to undertake effective and robust investigations and prosecutions into all allegations of crimes under international law, and to provide reparations and effective remedies to victims of war crimes committed by its military.
Matthew Cannock

'The ICC has found that claims made by hundreds of Iraqi victims - far from being vexatious - could not be prosecuted due to difficulties in gathering evidence years after the crimes were committed, and inadequacies in the British army's initial investigations.  

'With this in mind, it is deeply concerning that the recently introduced UK Overseas Operations Bill attempts to put the military above the law. It seeks to protect UK soldiers from prosecution for crimes committed abroad after five years, in the knowledge that war crimes investigations can be obstructed and delayed beyond that time limit.’ 

Background 

The preliminary examination of the situation in Iraq, initially terminated on 9 February 2006, was re-opened by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor on 13 May 2014 upon receipt of new information. The preliminary examination focussed on alleged crimes committed by UK nationals in the context of the Iraq conflict from 2003 to 2008, including murder, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment.