UK to hold inquiry into Iraqi killings, victims of torture

des-browne.jpgIRNA | Defense Secretary Des Browne announced Wednesday an independent inquiry into the death and torture of Iraqi civilians in the custody of British soldiers. The inquiry will be held into the 2003 death of Basra hotel worker Baha Mousa, the alleged torture and ill treatment of his nine hotel colleagues and how it came about that the five techniques banned in 1972 were reintroduced in Iraq, Browne said.Responding to the announcement, human rights lawyer for the Iraqi victims, Phil Shiner warned that it will ‘not be sufficient if the inquiry has a narrow remit and does not look at all the cases and issues’ concerning abuse by British troops in Iraq.

“The public, as well as parliament, must be given the opportunity of fully understanding what went wrong in our detention policy in Iraq and what are the lessons to be learned for the future,” Shiner said.

The inquiry comes after the Ministry of Defense in March admitted ‘substantive breaches’ of the European Convention on Human Rights over the death and torture of Iraqi civilians in the custody of British soldiers.

The admissions, after years of legal battles, included breaches of Article Two on the right of life and Article Three on the prohibition of torture over the killing of Mousa while being detained with eight other Iraqis by UK troops in September 2003.

Shiner said the inquiry would ‘need to get to the bottom of how it came about that the 5 techniques banned in 1972 — hooding, stressing, food and water deprivation, sleep deprivation and noise — were reintroduced as apparently Standard Operating Procedure’.

“Further it would need to establish what lessons are to be learned not just from the death of Baha Mousa, but the torture of his hotel colleagues, the sexual and religious humiliation in play in that incident,” he said.

It is claimed that Mousa had 93 identifiable injuries on his body and suffered asphyxiation. In March, Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth offered ‘sincere apologies and sympathy’ to his families and the other eight Iraqi detainees.

The lawyer said there were other cases to answer, including the most serious allegations that ’20 Iraqis were executed at Abu Naji facility in May 2004 another nine survivors tortured, and that bodies were mutilated’.