Earlier this week, I wrote a post on the filing of a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged abuses committed by UK officials in Iraq. On Tuesday, I attended the official launch of the complaint at the Law Society in London and subsequently had the opportunity to write a more comprehensive article over at Foreign Policy. For those interested, here’s an excerpt:
It is often said that unresolved human rights violations cast a long and harrowing shadow. Atrocities and crimes committed in the past can come back to haunt even the most powerful states. For Britain, that restless shadow is the war in Iraq.
Earlier this week, two groups — the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) — lodged a formal complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC), demanding that the ICC investigate British political and military officials for their alleged role in the commission of war crimes in Iraq. The filing maintains that senior figures within the British government bare the greatest responsibility for systematic torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of Iraqi citizens between 2003 and 2008.
The complaint comprises a judiciously organized, comprehensive, 250-page dossier. Notably, it relies not only upon witness testimony but on documents and manuals revealed and produced by various commissions, inquiries, and British ministries. Its focus is on Britain’s Ministry of Defense and officials such as General Sir Peter Wall, former Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon and former Defense Minister Adam Ingram. Those hoping to see former Prime Minister Tony Blair targeted will be disappointed; his name does not appear once in the filing.
While the ICC is frequently criticized for its myopic focus on sub-Saharan Africa, attention has shifted in recent years, rather dramatically, toward the Middle East and North Africa. The court has grabbed headlines for its actual and potential role in Libya, Syria, Palestine, and now Iraq.
Still, the complaint should not be confused as constituting a judicial intervention into Iraq. Rather, this week’s filing could represent the best opportunity to expose senior British officials to investigation by the ICC. This poses an unprecedented political and legal challenge for the court.
You can read the rest of the post here.