Black Lives Matter but Iraqi Lives Don’t | ICC Drops UK War Crimes Probe Despite Evidence | British Pressure Suspected
The International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor said Wednesday that—despite evidence of war crimes—it is not launching a probe into actions committed by British forces in Iraq, raising serious suspicions of British establishment back door pressure to kill the probe.
The decision “will doubtless fuel perceptions of an ugly double standard in justice: one approach to powerful states and quite another for those with less clout.”
Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office opened a preliminary examination in 2014 into allegations of systematic inhumane acts including sexual assault and torture against Iraqi detainees between 2003 to 2008. That development was praised at the time by the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which submitted evidence to the court, as “a milestone for Iraqi victims and for international criminal law.”
Human Rights Watch also lamented the decision.
“The UK government has repeatedly shown precious little interest in investigating and prosecuting atrocities committed abroad by British troops,” said Clive Baldwin, senior legal advisor at Human Rights Watch. “The prosecutor’s decision to close her UK inquiry will doubtless fuel perceptions of an ugly double standard in justice: one approach to powerful states and quite another for those with less clout.”
One of the investigations by the Royal Military Police, featured in last year’s BBC Panorama, was into the death of Radhi Nama in British custody.
The Royal Military Police concluded he had died of a heart attack – even though his body and face showed signs he had been beaten.
To date, no one has been prosecuted in connection with Radhi Nama’s death.
His daughter, Afaf Radhi Nama, told Panorama: “I saw torture signs on his body.
“They covered his head and tied his hands, he could not defend himself, and they killed him. It is my wish to see the soldiers who committed this crime put on trial and facing justice.
“If I was a British citizen my rights would be respected, but because I am an Iraqi citizen, it seems I have no rights.”
Yet, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hailed ICC’s decision to drop the probe with words that sounded like claims of innocence: “confirms that the UK is willing and able to investigate and prosecute claims of wrongdoing by armed forces personnel” adding later that it had brought to light “no new evidence” and that ICC statement “vindicates our efforts to pursue justice where allegations have been founded”. He continued, “I am pleased that work we have done, and continue to do, in improving the quality and assurances around investigations has been recognised by the ICC,”.
Wallace then concluded “The Service Justice System Review and the appointment of Sir Richard Henriques to provide assurance of our investigative processes are all steps towards making sure we have one of the best service justice systems in the world.”
But Wednesday’s ICC announcement seriously contradicted Wallace’s and UK government narrative of innocence and justice for Iraqi victims.
In a statement, ICC’s Bensouda said that her office had “previously found, and today confirmed, that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of the British armed forces committed the war crimes of wilful killing, torture, inhuman/cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and/or other forms of sexual violence. The office has identified a confined number of incidents to reach this determination which, while not exhaustive, appear to correspond to the most serious allegations of violence against persons in UK custody.”
“The office further found that several levels of institutional civilian supervisory and military command failures contributed to the commission of crimes against detainees by UK soldiers in Iraq,” Bensouda continued.
However, she pointed to investigations carried out by British authorities into the allegations as reason to quash a full probe, raising suspicions of British establishment pressure to bury the probe.
The prosecutor’s office “assessed that it could not conclude that the UK authorities had remained inactive” and said it “could not substantiate allegations that the UK investigative and prosecutorial bodies had engaged in shielding” individuals from criminal responsibility, according to the statement.
“I therefore determined that the only professionally appropriate decision at this stage is to close the preliminary examination,” said Bensouda.
She acknowledged that the decision might elicit “dismay and disappointment,” and noted in her full report that the British authorities’ process “has resulted in not one single case being submitted for prosecution: a result that has deprived victims of justice.”
The decision, said ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, “reinforces longstanding double standards in international justice and shows once again that powerful actors can get away with systematic torture.”
“To this day, the UK has failed to fully investigate and prosecute systematic torture by its armed forces in Iraq; in particular, it has refused to investigate those at the top of command,” Kaleck continued. “The ICC and the international justice system are failing in their primary purpose: to ensure accountability for grave crimes. ”
“The decision is a severe blow to Iraqi torture survivors,” Kaleck added.
It would seem that those who first resisted, but then joined the chants that black lives matter, don’t think Iraqi lives matter too, nor that they may also deserve justice.