The European Court of Human Rights has (7 july 2011) delivered two important rulings. The first judgement was in regard to the responsibility of the UK to carry out effective investigations into the killing of civilians by UK forces:
In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case Al-Skeini and Others v the United Kingdom (application no. 55721/07), which is final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that:
in the exceptional circumstances deriving from the United Kingdom’s assumption of authority for the maintenance of security in South East Iraq from 1 May 2003 to 28 June 2004, the UK had jurisdiction under Article 1 (obligation to respect human rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of civilians killed during security operations carried out by UK soldiers in Basrah and, that there had been a failure to conduct an independent and effective investigation into the deaths of the relatives of five of the six applicants, in violation of Article 2 of the Convention.
The case concerned the deaths of the applicants’ six close relatives in Basrah in 2003 while the UK was an occupying power: three of the victims were shot dead or shot and fatally wounded by British soldiers; one was shot and fatally wounded during an exchange of fire between a British patrol and unknown gunmen; one was beaten by British soldiers and then forced into a river, where he drowned; and one died at a British military base, with 93 injuries identified on his body.
This judgement will lead to a large number of claims regarding the conduct of British troops in and around Basra in the wake of the 2003 invasion as it effectively extends the protections offered by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Those who brought the case were represented by Public Interest Lawyers of Birmingham, UK.
The second judgement was with regard to the indefinite detention of a British-Iraqi citizen in a Basra facility run by UK forces:
In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case Al-Jedda v. the UK (no. 27021/08), which is final the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority of sixteeen to one, that there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned the internment of an Iraqi civilian for more than three years (2004-2007) in a detention centre in Basrah, Iraq, run by British forces.