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
“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
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.