• Press Release

British forces should not be above the law when it comes to torture, says Amnesty

October 4, 2016

Responding to reports that Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, will today announce that the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights will be suspended in any future international conflict, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Policy and Government Affairs Allan Hogarth said: 

"No legal manoeuvring means the UK can avoid its obligations to make sure soldiers operating abroad don’t carry out human rights abuses such as torture. As the Government well knows, it has an obligation to ensure that credible allegations of serious abuse carried out by members of its own armed forces are properly investigated. 

“Our armed forces do a hard and dangerous job, but that doesn't mean they are or should be above the law. Suggesting that we should always automatically derogate from our human rights obligations whenever the military operates indicates the government doesn't understand that would mean taking rights away from soldiers as well.

"Instead of reducing accountability in anticipation of things going wrong, it's absolutely vital that all members of the armed forces are given the right training and support to prevent abuses occurring in the first place. Tragically, we know from cases like that of the Basra hotel receptionist Baha Mousa who was tortured to death, that training systems fell short, and UK troops carried out acts of cruelty and abuse which the normal military justice system could not address. 

“Rather than try to brush these under the carpet, it's vital the Government takes steps to get to the bottom of any systemic issues. This includes looking at what went wrong and how to stop it happening again.

“We often hear that our armed forces are among the best in the world. Surely it's not beyond the capability of those leading our military to ensure that our training and investigation systems are also some of the best in the world."