By Waga Odongo
The International Criminal Court (ICC) may investigate the British military for war crimes committed in Iraq.
A BBC current affairs program says it has uncovered killings of unarmed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan which have been covered up by the British government.
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence denied the allegations.
Leaked documents obtained by BBC programme Panorama contain evidence allegedly linking British soldiers to the murder of children and torture of detained civilians.
BBC said it had obtained evidence from the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British soldiers in Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated a war crimes in Afghanistan.
The UK shuttered the IHAT and Northmoor investigations in 2017 after Phil Shiner, a lawyer who had brought more than a 1000 cases to IHAT, was disbarred as a solicitor after he was found guilty of multiple professional misconduct charges, including dishonesty and lack of integrity. Shiner admitted to paying Iraqi middlemen to find clients who presented fictitious accounts to IHAT.
The UK proceeded to terminate the investigations into war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq a move that drew criticism.
“The ICC said it would independently assess the BBC’s findings and would begin a landmark case if it believed the government was shielding soldiers from prosecution,” the corporation reported on Monday morning.
Of the over 3000 cases before IHAT only 20 were investigated in full with the rest of the cases being shelved indefinitely.
Britain was among the “coalition of the willing” an American-led multination force that invaded Iraq in 2003 and toppled President Saddam Hussein.
The United Kingdom is a member of the ICC meaning that the court can investigate the its nationals for alleged war crimes committed on Iraqi soil even though Iraq is not party to the Rome Statute.
A preliminary examination into possible war crimes committed by the United Kingdom (UK) military forces during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was started by the ICC in 2005and closed in 2006. The preliminary examination was reopened in 2014 in the light of new evidence concerning the systematic abuse of Iraqi detainees. The court is investigating allegations of murder, inhumane treatment of detainees and sexual violence.