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UK military prosecutors drop nearly all investigations into Iraq war crimes

UK Ministry of Defence

UK military prosecutors drop nearly all investigations into Iraq war crimes

The Service Prosecuting Authority has dropped all but one investigation into alleged war-related crimes by UK armed forces personnel in Iraq.

British pacifists say that they are worried but not surprised by the news, which comes only months after the Sunday Times and Panorama revealed fresh evidence of the killing and abuse of civilians by UK armed forces personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Andrew Cayley, director of the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) revealed the news that only one case is still being examined in an interview with the BBC yesterday (1st June).

The news follows a sustained campaign by the militarist lobby, who have whipped up the myth that there is a a “witch-hunt” against British veterans. In reality, UK armed forces personnel are almost never prosecuted for war-related crimes.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said that the news raises wider questions about military power, given that the armed forces are the only institutions in the UK that are allowed to run their own criminal courts. They are also permitted to run their own prosecution service, which is independent of the civilian Crown Prosecution Service.

The PPU asked if Boris Johnson would now drop his threat of watering down human rights legislation in relation to armed forces personnel, given that he justified this policy with the “witch-hunt” myth.

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

For years, we have listened to retired colonels and pro-military columnists whipping up a fantasy about 'witch-hunts' against British armed forces personnel. The reality is very different: despite years of allegations, and evidence uncovered by investigative journalists, the armed forces' own prosecutors have now decided to drop nearly all cases.

This is not only about the individual allegations involved. The politicians and generals who led the invasion of Iraq have still not been held to account for the death and destruction they caused.

Now we have another reminder of the power of the military: they are the only institution in the UK that is allowed to run their own criminal courts. They are permitted to maintain their own prosecution service, making their own decisions about whether their staff should face prosecution.”