Defence ministers have ordered a new inquiry into how war crimes are investigated, after their new combat zone immunity bill was ripped apart by the human rights committee.
Since the second reading of the Overseas Operations Bill on 23 September, the legislation has been attacked by members of the human rights committee. With the proposals proving deeply unpopular and controversial, panicked Tories have launched a judge-led inquiry into how war crimes are investigated.
In a press release on 13 October, defence secretary Ben Wallace said:
Nobody wants to see service personnel subjected to drawn-out investigations, only for the allegations to prove to be false or unfounded.
At the same time, credible allegations against those who fall short of our high standards must be investigated quickly and efficiently.
This review, which will run in tandem with our Overseas Operations Bill and build on the recommendations of the Service Justice System Review, will help future-proof investigations and provide greater certainty to both victims and service personnel.
The new move begs a question:
If the bill is as solid as the government says, why launch an inquiry into a key aspect which they claim their new proposal deals with?
The Ministry of Defence has framed the bill, including in its new announcement, as a defence of UK troops against so-called “vexatious” prosecutions and reinvestigations.
Critics, including the vice-chair of the Law Society, have warned that the bill would strip personnel and veterans of their right to sue the MOD. It would also strip overseas victims of UK military abuse of their right to justice, and badly damage international law.
The war crimes immunity bill is part of a broader pattern of authoritarian moves alongside:
- The Spy Cops Bill, which critics warn would give agents of the state carte blanche to break the law.
- The Snoopers’ Charter, seen by many as a draconian attack on press freedom.
- The extradition trial of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange, which some say would set a dangerous precedent for journalists all over the world.
It seems the Tories are on the run over their war crimes bill. But this new wave of authoritarian moves, which endangers the lives and freedoms of people in the UK and beyond, must continue to be resisted.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?