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).
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 Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid