UK/Iraq: Baha Mousa case - UK government must investigate unlawful killings in Iraq

The judgement concerned the death of Iraqi civilians at a time when the UK was recognised as an occupying power in Iraq. Five were shot dead in separate armed incidents involving UK troops and the sixth, Baha Mousa, died in a military prison in UK custody.

The High Court found in favour of Baha Mousa’s family holding that both the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) apply and that inquiries conducted so far into his death did not satisfy the requirements of the ECHR.

Amnesty International said:

“The UK government must conduct an independent and thorough investigation into the death in custody of Baha Mousa, including into allegations that he died as a result of being tortured or otherwise ill-treated while in UK custody.”

However, Amnesty International considers disturbing the High Court’s finding in relation to the other five cases. The UK had at the relevant time effective control over the Iraqi territory in which the deaths took place. In spite of this, the High Court held that neither the ECHR nor the HRA were applicable. Amnesty International considers that this is inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under international law.

The organisation added:

“Both the ECHR and the HRA were applicable to the territory of Iraq over which the UK exercised effective control as a result of its status as occupying power.

“Therefore, the UK is obliged to comply with its international and domestic legal obligations to investigate all allegations of unlawful killings.”

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