UK govt can limit troops' rights

2010-06-30 15:35
London - Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a ruling that soldiers are protected by human rights laws at all times, reversing a decision which the government had said could hamper military decision-making.

Lawyers for the Ministry of Defence argued that earlier court rulings risked obliging it to protect soldiers from risks caused by conflict, or face potentially costly lawsuits.

Britain has 9 500 troops serving in Afghanistan and a rising death toll there has prompted calls for a commitment to withdraw them as soon as possible.

Six of the nine judges who heard the case overturned two lower court judgments relating to the death of Jason Smith in Iraq while serving with the volunteer reserve Territorial Army in 2003, Britain's Press Association reported.

The court was asked to rule on whether a British soldier on military service in Iraq was subject to UK jurisdiction and covered by human rights laws at all times or only when on a British military base or hospital. It chose the latter.

Prosecutors slam decision

Lawyers who represented Smith's mother called Wednesday's ruling astonishing and said it risked undermining the morale of serving soldiers.

"It is artificial to assert that rights can be protected on base but not off base," said Jocelyn Cockburn of Hodge Jones & Allen.

"Whose jurisdiction are our soldiers under when they are off base in Afghanistan; Afghan jurisdiction or some sort of legal 'no-man's land'? Either must be a matter of serious concern to our servicemen and women," she added.

Smith told medical staff he was feeling unwell due to high temperatures in Iraq - sometimes over 50°C before reporting sick in August the same year.

He was found lying face down and taken to a hospital but had suffered a cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead.

Smith's family had sought a judicial review of the case after claiming they were denied access to crucial documents during an initial inquest.

Not common sense

A court reviewing the case decided the European Convention on Human Rights applied to all armed forces personnel serving outside the UK whether or not the death took place on an army base.

An Appeal Court judgement last year that the Human Rights Act should apply wherever troops were involved - now overturned by Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling - had been accused of making life more difficult for battlefield commanders.

"To apply the Human Rights Act in a warzone flies in the face of common sense," Liam Fox, now defence secretary, said at the time when he was the shadow secretary.

"Our troops and commanders have enough to worry about on the battlefield without worrying about where the next legal attack will come from," he added.
 

Read more on:    uk  |  war
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Sales Consultant

Western Cape
Multinetwork Cellular and Data Pty (Ltd)
R3 000 - R5 000 Per Month

Sales Associate - Canal Walk

Cape Town
Service Solutions Staffing

Graphic and UI Designer

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Korbitec (Pty) Ltd

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.