UK & World News
Iraq: Government Rejects Torture Allegations
The Government says it "absolutely rejects" allegations of "systematic" abuse and torture by British soldiers in Iraq.
Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to Sky News after it was revealed the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been asked to investigate hundreds of abuse allegations.
It is understood a German human rights organisation and a British law firm have presented a dossier to the ICC containing accusations of more than 1,000 cases of torture against Iraqi civilians, and 200 cases of unlawful killings, including many in custody.
The Berlin-based European Centre for Constitutional Rights and UK-based Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) will launch their case at an event in London on Tuesday.
Phil Shiner, a solicitor from PIL, told Sky News: "This is historic. The UK has never been investigated by the ICC. There is clear evidence this goes right to the top."
But speaking on the Murnaghan programme, Mr Hague said: "The Government has always been clear, and the armed forces have always been clear, that they absolutely reject allegations of systematic abuse by the British armed forces.
"The British armed forces uphold high standards, and they are the finest armed forces in the world."
He added: "But where there are substantiated allegations of things going wrong, these things have been or are being investigated. That does not require references to the International Criminal Court."
The Government has set up a body to investigate accusations of abuse arising from the Iraq conflict.
The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) investigates allegations of abuse against Iraqi civilians by British troops between 2003 and 2009.
It is led by a retired detective and is due to complete its investigations by the end of 2016.
Commenting on the reports, the Ministry of Defence said: "These matters are either under thorough investigation or have been dealt with through various means including through the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, independent public inquiries, the UK and European courts and in Parliament.
"As such, further action through the ICC is unnecessary when the issues and allegations are already known to the UK Government, action is in hand and the UK courts have already issued judgments.
"Should we be approached by the ICC, we will take the opportunity to explain the very extensive work under way to deal with historic allegations of abuse.
"We reject the suggestion that the UK's Armed Forces - who operate in line with domestic and international law - have systematically tortured detainees.
"But of course the UK Government regrets the small number of cases where abuses have taken place. Wherever allegations have been substantiated, we have compensated victims and their families."
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