"We cannot part with this case without paying tribute to the claimants\' legal advisers who although greatly outnumbered by the Secretary of State\'s legal team have persisted with their requests for disclosure skilfully and with commendable determination." (per Lord Justice Scott-Baker in  R (on the application of Al-Sweady and Others) v The Secretary of State for Defence [2009] EWHC 2387 (Admin)).
Lord Justice Scott-Baker
 
 

142 Iraqi detainee abuse cases reach High Court

Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) are acting for 142 Iraqi civilians who complain that at various times and in different UK facilities during the period March 2003 to December 2008, UK soldiers and interrogators subjected them to torture and to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  All of the cases concern allegations of abuse inside UK military facilities in Iraq.

The Lead Claimant, Ali Zaki Mousa, brings a case on behalf of all the men. It is being heard by a Court of Appeal Judge, Richards LJ, and a High Court Judge, Mr Justice Silber, on 5, 8 and 9 November 2010 at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London.

The Baha Mousa Inquiry has concluded its oral hearings and the Report is due in early 2011.  A second inquiry into how the UK Armed Forces behaved in Iraq, the Al Sweady Inquiry, is due to start its oral hearings in 2011.  The Ali Zaki Mousa case argues that there must now be a single inquiry into the UK’s detention policy in South East Iraq.  The alternative is to allow the MoD to argue out each and every case which at the rate it says it can deal with cases – one at a time and one a year – will take 142 years (assuming that no new cases come forward in the meantime).

The Iraqi victims complain of many practices and techniques that have not been examined at all during the Baha Mousa Inquiry and include:

- Forcednakedness, including keeping Iraqis naked if they did not cooperate withinterrogators;
 
- Sexual abuses, including rape, forced oral sex, forced adoption of prolonged oral and anal simulated sex positions, soldiers masturbating on Iraqis, female and male soldiers having sex in front of the Iraqis, playing loud, hardcore pornographic movies all night during Ramadan and many other troubling allegations of a sexual nature;

- Foodand water deprivation as a means of "softening-up" Iraqis for interrogation;

- Prolonged solitary confinement;

Sleep deprivation;
 
- Mockexecutions;
 
“Harshing”, including screaming insults and threats into the faces of Iraqis from close range;
 
- Systematicuse of sensory deprivation, including hoods/double hoods, blacked-out goggles, and earmuffs;
 
- Threats to rape Iraqis’ wives and daughters in front of them; and

- Abuse of women and children at arrest operations in homes.

 Phil Shiner of PIL said:


“This case raises a number of very troubling systemic issues about the practices and techniques used on Iraqis by soldiers and interrogators.  Even the MoD now concedes that its previous protestations about a “few bad apples” and “isolated incidents” is patent nonsense.  The question for the Court to decide comes down not to whether there should now be a single inquiry into the UK’s detention policy in Iraq, but when it should be set up.  The MoD want to kick all of this into the long grass.  Our clients are entitled to a proper inquiry into all of these cases now, not in several years time when all the evidence will be lost or forgotten.”

 Mazin Younis, Advisor for the Iraqi Rabita (League), added:

 “Since my first trip to Basra in 2004 to meet a handful of Iraqis claiming to have been abused by British soldiers, the list of claimants has shot up dramatically. The similarities in allegations of abuse that took place between 2003 and 2008, when thousands of British soldiers had served from different units and in many headquarters, are really astonishing. These similarities may reveal a systematic policy of abuse issued by officers high up in the command chain, and may reveal immunity guaranteed to soldiers to mistreat Iraqis the way they liked with no fear of accountability.

At this very moment, more than 60 new cases have flooded in from southern Iraq; we don’t know yet what kinds of abuse they will be revealing. Iraqis have been waiting for a long time for their voices to be heard and for justice to be restored. The only way that we can handle the current and future claims of abuse made by Iraqis is through a single inquiry. Iraqis will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this hearing.”

There will be a press conference at 9.45am on Friday 5 November at the front entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice.  Those present will include Phil Shiner and Mazin Younis.  It has not been possible to arrange for the client himself, Ali Zaki Mousa, to be present but a statement on his behalf will be read out by Mazin Younis.

For further information, please contact: 

Phil Shiner on 0121 515 5069 / 07715485 248

Daniel Carey on 07815 089 526

Sam Jacobs on 07762 278234

Paul McNab on 07577 642374

Mazin Younis on 0781118862


Other stories

Click on a story to read

  Rights Info project launched this week...
  No Prosecution for Alleged Paedophile Peer...
  ‘Pat would have represented the people who shot him’...
  Al-Saadoon Final Judgment...
  The government’s improper campaign against one solicitor follows years of disdain for access to just...
  Unprotected by the state...
  Freedom of lawyers to represent their clients...
  Haldane letter to Law Society...
  LegalAction feature - "I'm just a Lawyer doing my job. I've done nothing wrong."...
  Voting Rights for Refugees...
  New Policy Deferred as UK Visa and Immigration Seek Further Consultation...
  Failed Asylum Seekers forced to travel to Liverpool to submit claims...
  UK links to torture go beyond complicity to active involvement...
  Newsweek: “British Soldiers Accused of Torture and Abuse During Iraq Occupation” ...
  Press Release: Public Interest Lawyers' Response to the Al-Sweady Inquiry Report...
  Public Interest Lawyers reconstitutes as a Non-Governmental Organisation...
  Inquest Reports on Suicide in Serco-run Prison...
  Independent on Sunday: New torture claims go to court...
  Media Comment: Bad Month for MoJ...
  'No justice in sight for Iraqi victims of alleged murder, rape, and torture'...
  At least 30 other 'Baha Mousa' style killings ...
  Press Release : Coalition Minister is ‘Minded to’ Duck Out of Library Inquiry....