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New Prime Minister must not put soldiers above the law

UK army recruits in training

New Prime Minister must not put soldiers above the law

The UK’s incoming Prime Minister has been urged to reject proposals to introduce a “presumption against prosecution” for armed forces personnel.

The Defence Select Committee made the proposal today (Monday 22 July) after months of scaremongering by the Sun newspaper and others about veterans being subjected to a “withchhunt”.

But the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said that the proposal would not address veterans’ real needs and was a further attempt to put the armed forces beyond scrutiny and above the law.

The organisation described the “withchhunt” claims as a myth, pointing out that it is very rare for British armed forces personnel to be prosecuted for war-related crimes.

The PPU added, however, that investigating low-ranking personnel should never be a substitute for holding senior officers and politicians accountable for the actions they have ordered.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), said:

"It is fundamental principle of justice that everyone is subject to the same law. By calling for a 'presumption against prosecution', the Defence Select Committee is trying to place armed forces personnel above the law.

"The militarist lobby has whipped up fears of a 'witchhunt' of veterans. Meanwhile in the real world, British veterans are rarely prosecuted and almost never convicted of war-related crimes.

“This proposal is a distraction from addressing the real needs of veterans, at a time when 13,000 veterans are estimated to be homeless in the UK. The attempt to put soldiers above the law is not about helping veterans. It is about putting the armed forces beyond scrutiny. Like Armed Forces Day and the government’s massive funding for cadet forces, it's an attempt to whip up support for war and militarism by the back door.”