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High Court to hear three day legal challenge over systematic abuse in Iraq

DATE: 28 Jan 2013

On Tuesday 29 January 2013 the Divisional Court (Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Silber) will begin hearing a three-day judicial review (R (Mousa) v Secretary of State for Defence (No. 2)) brought by (i) 135 Iraqis alleging that they were subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment across the 6-year period of the UK’s involvement in Iraq, from the start of combat operations in March 2003 until the UK withdrawal in December 2008; and (ii) 38 Iraqis alleging that a relative was unlawfully killed by British forces in Iraq.

On 22 November 2011, the Court of Appeal in R (Mousa) v Secretary of State for Defence (No. 1) [2011] EWCA Civ 1334; [2012] H.R.L.R. 6 ruled that the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (“IHAT”) set up by the Secretary of State to investigate allegations of ill-treatment made by Iraqis detained by British soldiers was not sufficiently independent to satisfy Article 2/3 of the European Convention on Human Rights as a result of the involvement in IHAT of the Royal Military Police (“RMP”).

On 26 March 2012, and in response to the Court of Appeal’s judgment, the Secretary of State announced that he was restructuring IHAT: in short, that the RMP element in IHAT would be replaced with the Royal Navy Police (“RNP”).

In the current proceedings it is contended that: (i) the RNP also lacks the requisite independence; and (ii) the Secretary of State’s refusal now to hold the inevitably-needed public inquiry is unlawful.

James Maurici is part of a four-strong counsel team appearing for the claimants (led by Michael Fordham QC) and instructed by Public Interest Lawyers.

For press coverage see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/19/british-troops-accused-iraq-torture and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265514/Britain-breached-international-law-torturing-killing-prisoners-Iraq-War-claim-180-Iraqis.html?ito=feeds-newsxml