LONDON – The UK government is set to introduce new legislation to shield its soldiers from prosecution for war crimes they committed while serving in military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Middle East Eye’s Ian Cobain reported that the measures will cover war crimes outside the UK, thus soldiers who committed war crimes during the conflict in Northern Ireland will also be spared, Daily Sabah reported.
“The controversial new rules mean that there will be a presumption that once five years have elapsed since the date of an incident, prosecutors will bring charges only in exceptional circumstances,” Cobain said in his piece.
In late 2019, it was revealed via a series of leaked government documents that the United Kingdom government and the military covered up credible evidence of war crimes by UK soldiers against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to an investigation by the BBC and the Sunday Times.
Leaks from two government-ordered inquiries into the conduct of troops in the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq implicated troops in the killing of children and torture of civilians, the investigation found. The allegations include murders by a soldier from the elite SAS unit, as well as deaths in custody, beatings, torture and sexual abuse of detainees by members of the infamous Black Watch infantry unit.
Military detectives, who unearthed evidence of the war crimes committed during invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, told the yearlong investigation by the newspaper and the BBC’s Panorama program that seniors commanders hid it “for political reasons”. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab later told the BBC that despite the lack of any prosecutions, it had “got the right balance” in ensuring “spurious claims” were not pursued.