News / Europe

UK: Soldier Deaths' Court Ruling Will Harm Combat Missions

British soldiers from the Light Dragoons lay to rest their fallen colleague, Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett, during a burial service in Belfast (file photo).
British soldiers from the Light Dragoons lay to rest their fallen colleague, Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett, during a burial service in Belfast (file photo).
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— The British government warned on Wednesday that future combat operations could become more difficult after a court ruled that families of three soldiers killed in Iraq could sue the military for failing to protect troops on active duty.
 
Britain's Supreme Court upheld the claim of relatives that the Human Rights Act applied to troops serving in battle abroad, and rejected the Ministry of Defense's argument that it was protected by a doctrine of combat immunity.
 
Under the doctrine, the government cannot be held responsible for actions or omissions that cause death or injury during combat.
 
The ruling delighted and surprised the families involved, but Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said that worrying about soldiers' human rights could have a serious impact on future military missions.
 
“I am very concerned at the wider implications of this judgment, which could ultimately make it more difficult for our troops to carry out operations and potentially throws open a wide range of military decisions to the uncertainty of litigation,'' Hammond said in a statement.
 
“It can't be right that troops on operations have to put the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) ahead of what is operationally vital to protect our national security,'' he added.
 
Britain's top court, which overturned a decision by the Court of Appeal last year, ruled troops did remain under British jurisdiction when deployed on active service abroad and consequently were covered by the Human Rights Act.
 
The decision means families of soldiers killed can now take their cases to trial to seek damages from the MoD for negligence.
 
The claims related to the deaths of two British soldiers killed by improvised explosive devices while traveling in the heavily criticized, lightly armored Snatch Land Rover vehicles, and another who died in a “friendly fire'' incident.

Long battle
 
“It has been a long hard battle to get to this decision today and we now finally have permission to proceed and prove the MoD were at fault,'' said Susan Smith, whose son, Private Philip Hewett, was killed when his Snatch Land Rover was struck by an explosion in July 2005.
 
“They can no longer treat soldiers as sub-human with no rights,'' she said
 
Relatives of some British soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan have blamed inadequate equipment for unnecessary deaths. Snatch Land Rovers have been particularly singled out, with critics arguing they gave too little or no protection from roadside bombs.
 
“Snatch Land Rovers were known to be inadequate for many years before the Iraq conflict. They were known to be unsafe and were becoming increasingly so as the insurgency grew and were nicknamed 'mobile coffins','' said the families' lawyer Jocelyn Cockburn.
 
“There seems to have been no intent to act upon the clear evidence regarding the safety of these vehicles,'' she added.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid