The UN Committee Against Torture has called on the UK to investigate claims of murder, torture and abuse by its troops in Iraq, Daily Mail reported.
The panel emphatically voiced the need for an independent public inquiry, strongly urging the UK to “refrain” from bringing in laws granting amnesty to troops who could have been implicated in war crimes.
Members of the UN committee stated there was growing concern over the glaring lack of prosecutions for war crimes, including torture, in the wake of probes by the “discredited” Iraq Historic Allegations Team.
The UN committee also said it was “seriously concerned” that allegations of mistreatment and murder by the Army during the Troubles in Northern Ireland have not been “effectively investigated”.
Newly-appointed UK Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt recently declared that army veterans should not be “pursued unfairly for events that took place decades ago” as she openly favoured an amnesty for British soldiers from historical prosecutions, The Guardian reported earlier.
“We will always hold our armed forces and the chain of command to account, but I want to ensure our service personnel are not going to be victims of unfounded allegations, as we saw in the case of IHAT, or pursued unfairly for events that took place decades ago,” the minister said, referring to the collapsed Iraq Historic Allegations Team.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team was set up by the Labour government to investigate claims of abuse of Iraqi civilians by British servicemen. It received almost 3,500 allegations of abuse.
However, an outcry over the treatment of soldiers who served in Iraq in the second Gulf War prompted ministers to eventually shut down its dedicated criminal inquiry team, leaving questions about the scale of abuses and accountability unanswered.
As for the events in Northern Ireland, at a time when many episodes from the Troubles (the ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century) remain unresolved, attempts to ban or pursue prosecutions of army veterans present the risk of exacerbating nationalist sentiment in Northern Ireland, reported The Guardian.
The UK government is already fending off claims that it is failing to take action to stop what it is labelling a "witch-hunt."