Leaked documents have revealed British commanders, as well as the British government, have attempted to conceal evidence that British soldiers were engaged in the murder of children and torture of civilians whilst in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This information has been uncovered through a year-long investigation by The Sunday Times and the BBC Panorama programme. According to their reporting, there was evidence of “murders by an SAS soldier and deaths in custody, beatings, torture and degrading sexual abuse of detainees by members of the Black Watch”. There was further evidence of falsifying documents which could lead to the prosecution of senior officers.
According to The Times, this was evidenced through two war crimes inquiries but both were ended in 2017 by the defence secretary at the time, Sir Michael Fallon, before reaching trial.
According to investigators, this was due to political motivations. One reporter stated that;
“Key decisions were being taken out of our hands […] There was more and more pressure coming from the Ministry of Defence to get cases closed as quickly as possible.”
Lord Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions, has described the actions of these politicians as “absolutely reprehensible”.
The Times further reports that under international law British forces could be called in front of the International Criminal Court to answer for their breaches of the Geneva conventions.
Freedom from Torture, a UK charity set up to support survivors of torture seeking protection, have condemned the British government for allegedly attempting to hide its use of torture abroad.
In her statement, Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture, criticised the government both for the cover-up as well as pushing forward a bill that would block prosecutions for war crimes committed over ten years ago.
In her statement she maintained
“Survivors and the families of anyone who died deserve justice, and the British people deserve the truth”.
She further called on the British government to take a more active role in championing human rights and not turning a blind eye to abuse.
Sceats concludes stating;
"Soldiers, like everyone else, must be held accountable for their actions. No one is above the law".
Read The Times reporting here.
Read Freedom from Torture’s full statement here.