UK drops hundreds of soldiers misconduct claims over Iraq, Afghan wars
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which was set up in 2010 and is dealing with hundreds of cases, will be shut down in the summer and 20 of its cases will be handed over to the Royal Navy police.world Updated: Feb 11, 2017 10:46 IST
Britain is dismissing hundreds of allegations of misconduct by its soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, the defence ministry said on Friday, following an investigation that uncovered spurious claims.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which was set up in 2010 and is dealing with hundreds of cases, will be shut down in the summer and 20 of its cases will be handed over to the Royal Navy police.
This follows an investigation that led to campaigning lawyer Phil Shiner, who had brought many of the claims, being struck off earlier this month.
The announcement was made by defence minister Michael Fallon, who also said that 90 percent of the 675 current misconduct allegations involving British troops in Afghanistan were being dismissed.
“This will be a relief for our soldiers who have had allegations hanging over them for too long,” Fallon said in televised remarks.
“Now we are taking action to stop such abuse of our legal system from happening again,” he said.
But Amnesty International criticised the decision to hand over the remaining cases to the Royal Navy police, calling instead for an independent investigation to be conducted.
“The UK’s military reputation is on the line -- any credible allegations of abuses by UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan should be independently investigated, which must mean by a body that is separate from the military itself,” the rights group said in a statement.
A parliamentary committee report earlier on Friday found that serving and retired troops had been subjected to “deeply disturbing” treatment by IHAT.
The report said IHAT investigators had used “intimidatory tactics” and spied on war veterans.
“IHAT has operated without any regard to its impact on the UK military which has directly harmed their reputation across the world,” the report said.
IHAT was set up by the former Labour government to assess claims of abuse by Iraqi civilians. It started out with 165 claims but the caseload skyrocketed and eventually grew to more than 3,500.