11 July 2010

Shiner Sheds Light In Hexham

Phil Shiner from Public Interest Lawyers gave a presentation in Hexham on Saturday 10th July 2010, "Challenging the legality of the use of force under international law."

The talk was about his work of finding justice for kicked to death and otherwise killed and/or tortured people at the hands of British troops in Iraq during Gulf War 2.

He began by telling us about the Parker Report 1972 which clarified that the 5 techniques (of interrogation),
  • wall-standing
  • hooding
  • subjection to noise
  • deprivation of sleep
  • deprivation of food and drink
were forms of torture and were illegal. As a short aside, since this came out of the Heath government, of which Margaret Thatcher was a member (check out the 50 pence piece), Craig Murray's evidence, He [Craig Murray] said during a previous job before the first Gulf War he had been given "clear direction" from the then PM Margaret Thatcher "that we were not to use any intelligence which may have come from torture" should come as no surprise to anyone, not even to Lord Hounslow (ca 2 mins 10 secs in). Since this was clear law since the 1970s what went wrong? Shiner used the term force drift. He explained that it was thought that newly captured enemy combatants, if hooded, would suffer a prolonged shock of capture which would make them more susceptible to interrogation. When this was accepted, the other five techniques were accepted. This was a breach of article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, "Article 3 – Prohibition of torture No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" Following the death of Baha Mousa, "On 14 September 2003 Baha, a 26-year-old hotel receptionist, was arrested along with six other men and taken to a British base. Whilst in detention it is claimed that Baha and the other captives were hooded and severely assaulted by a number of British troops. Two days later Baha was found dead [2]. A post-mortem examination found that Baha suffered multiple injuries (at least ninety-three), including fractured ribs and a broken nose, which were 'in part' the cause of his death[3].", This incident lead to the Bulford court marshall, but this process was not found to be an adequate investigation. There is a duty imposed upon states to investigate breaches of article 2; thus, in an earlier court case, Amin regarding breaches of article 2 Lord Bingham had said that an investigation was necessary, “to ensure so far as possible that the full facts are brought to light; that culpable and discreditable conduct is exposed and brought to public notice; that suspicion of deliberate wrongdoing (if unjustified) is allayed; that dangerous practices and procedures are rectified; and that those who have lost their relative may at least have the satisfaction of knowing that lessons learned from his death may save the lives of others.” These shortcomings in law have lead to the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry; while further suggested atrocities in Iraq are being investigated through the Al Sweady Public Inquiry; and a third public inquiry into "all cases of abuse of Iraqi civilians after the March 2003 invasion" is expected to be announced quite soon. Shiner's visit, whilst illuminating was quite depressing. He went on to talk of the medics who were being discussed in the Baha Mousa Inquiry being abandoned by the army; while one medic, Keiloh, currently a GP, is expected to be struck off. He also spoke about JFIT (Joint Forward Intelligence Team) who were doing the interrogation (the acronym is sometimes rendered as the Joint Forward Interrogation Team) who were only accountable to London. Who were set-up in such a manner that they were ignorant, or purposely broke the law. Shiner discussed the sorts of things brought to our attention by aangirfan in the following post from back in Jan of this year and of course, the Public Interest Lawyers have case studies in their Final Report (sadly, much like aangirfan's).

Depressing day.

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