UK

Ceasefire joins ten civil society groups in calling on the UK to urgently address civilian harm policies

On Protection of Civilians Week, Ceasefire joins eleven civil society organisations request to meet the UK Secretary of State for Defence to discuss improvements on the way the UK mitigates, accounts and investigates instances of civilian harm.

As the United States announces a review of its approach to how it protects civilians in warfare there is an urgent need for the United Kingdom to conduct its own review, a coalition of civil society organisations specialised in the subject said on Friday, the final day of the UN Protection of Civilians Week from May 23rd to May 27th 2022.

After devastating revelations published in The New York Times late last year revealed critical failures by the US-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) in the prevention of civilian harm in Iraq and Syria, the Biden administration has launched a review to improve policies on data collection, reporting and acknowledgement of civilian harm, improvements which aim to overhaul processes and create a Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMRAP), as well as a civilian protection ‘center of excellence’.

These revelations add to the strong evidence base of civilian harm from CJTF-OIR operations built up by researchers, humanitarian agencies, and international organisations over the years.

Developments in the US have substantial implications for the UK’s own approach to civilian harm, as the UK played an important role in CJTF-OIR. The UK must now engage with civil society on these issues and implement urgent reforms.

The use of explosive weapons, with wide area effects, in urban areas continues to be a cause of immense human suffering – with nine out of ten casualties being civilians.

Please find the full letter here and below:

Dear Secretary of State, 

RE: Protection of Civilians Week – time to address UK policy on civilian harm mitigation, transparency, and oversight  

On the occasion of UN Protection of Civilians Week, the undersigned civil society organisations are writing to you to request a meeting and develop a constructive dialogue with you to discuss the UK’s policy on civilian harm mitigation, transparency and oversight. As some of our closest allies have begun to reform their approach to civilian harm in military operations, we believe there is an urgent need for the UK to learn from developing practice on this issue.  

Revelations published in the New York Times in 2021 about critical failures by Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) to prevent, respond to, and be held accountable for civilian harm caused in Iraq and Syria add to the strong evidence base of civilian harm from CJTF-OIR operations built up by researchers, humanitarian agencies, and international organisations over the years. This public disquiet partly spurred, as you will know, the US Secretary of State of Defense to direct the DoD to improve policies on data collection, reporting and acknowledgement of civilian harm, improvements which aim to overhaul processes and create a Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMRAP), as well as a civilian protection ‘center of excellence.’

Given the important role of UK forces in combined operations as part of CJTF-OIR, these developments clearly have substantial implications for the UK’s own approach to civilian harm. 

All states participating in CJTF-OIR, including the US and UK, should ensure that all instances of reported civilian harm are investigated and accounted for. We urge for constructive dialogue around the hundreds of civilian-harm claims from local communities that indicate that large-scale civilian harm occurred as a direct result of  CJTF-OIR operations. 

We believe that the UK for its part has an opportunity to be a global leader on civilian protection issues. We would like to discuss the following with you:

  • Engagement with civil society on these issues and involvement of  civil society in implementing improvements
  • Implications from the reviews of US practice and the CHMRAP for the UK’s own approach to civilian harm mitigation and response
  •  How the UK could contribute to developing the knowledge base on civilian harm mitigation and response
  • How civilian protection concerns are included in UK support for partner forces, lessons learnt from civilian harm incidents and standards set for best practice.
  • How the UK can play a leading role in ensuring historic instances of civilian harm allegations resulting from CJTF-OIR actions are properly accounted for.
  • How the UK can lead the strengthening of NATO’s Protection of Civilian preparedness. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Yours sincerely, 

Action On Armed Violence, Airwars, Amnesty International UK, Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights, Crisis Action, Every Casualty Counts, Iraq Body Count, Reprieve, Save the Children, War Child 

For comment, please contact Ceasefire’s Advocacy Officer, Lydia Day (lydia.day@ceasefire.org). 

ceasefireCeasefire joins ten civil society groups in calling on the UK to urgently address civilian harm policies
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The protection of civilians and siege warfare: CEASEFIRE and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK host event

From Mariupol and other cities in Ukraine, to Mosul, Aleppo and other cities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Philippines, the global resurgence of siege warfare and its devastating impact on civilian populations have raised serious questions about the implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and military strategy and operational practice.

Such questions were considered at an event at the Swiss Ambassador’s residence in London on 31st March to launch CEASEFIRE’s latest report, Protecting civilians in siege warfare: Constraints on military action. Academics, lawyers, civil servants, parliamentarians, military officials and civil society members gathered to engage with a panel discussion on the protection of civilians and siege warfare.

The Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner introduced the panel discussion, referring to Switzerland’s long-standing tradition of protecting civilians in armed conflict and emphasising the importance of the conversation. He underlined the priority of the protection of civilians in Swiss foreign policy and the value of cooperation with like-minded countries such as the UK. Opening remarks were also given by Ambassador Corinne Cicéron Bühler, Director of the Directorate of International Law at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, on the role of IHL in regulating siege warfare, and how Switzerland is working in multilateral forums to strengthen IHL and compliance with it.

The panel discussion, which was conducted under the Chatham House Rule, was chaired by CEASEFIRE’s Executive Director, Mark Lattimer, and the speakers included:

  • Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights
  • Helen Alderson, ICRC Representative to the UK & Ireland
  • Brigadier Keith Eble, Head of Operational Law at the British Army
  • Professor Noam Lubell, Director of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub, University of Essex.

Participants agreed that while siege warfare is often referred to as ‘medieval’, this description was deeply inaccurate given how widespread such tactics are in contemporary urban warfare, and the extent to which modern technologies and equipment have changed the nature of siege warfare.

Several panellists and audience members spoke about the devastating consequences of siege warfare for civilian populations, including casualties from bombardment, food and water scarcity, and psychological consequences. It was crucial that discussions were grounded in the realities of civilians’ lives under siege.

A significant point of discussion was about whether existing IHL was sufficient for mitigating civilian harm from siege warfare, and if so, whether the focus should be on increasing compliance with IHL. Some commented that it was better to improve compliance with IHL in siege warfare through increased training, funding, and accountability for potential violations. Others noted that these approaches were not mutually exclusive, and that we should seek to expand IHL where necessary while also strengthening compliance to existing IHL.

There was also an ongoing conversation about what accountability means in the context of siege tactics and urban warfare. Participants examined criminal and state accountability for violations of IHL during sieges, and what avenue may be most appropriate for this kind of warfare.

Read CEASEFIRE’s latest report on siege warfare here.

ceasefireThe protection of civilians and siege warfare: CEASEFIRE and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK host event
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Global resurgence of siege warfare traps civilian populations on the frontline – new report

Read CEASEFIRE’s latest report on siege warfare here

A resurgence across world regions of the tactics of siege warfare has trapped civilian populations at the frontlines of today’s battles, finds a new report by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights. From Mariupol and other cities in Ukraine, to Mosul, Aleppo and other cities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Philippines, militaries around the world have imposed sieges leading to tens of thousands of civilian casualties and massive destruction to civilian infrastructure.

‘Protecting civilians in siege warfare: Constraints on military action’, by Professor Stuart Casey-Maslen, analyses the limits imposed by international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law on the conduct of sieges, and the role of the UK and other governments, armed forces, NATO, the UN, humanitarian actors and the civilian population itself in avoiding or minimising civilian harm.

‘The law of the Geneva Conventions requires both attacking and defending forces to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population, but in a siege civilians are trapped in the battlespace,’ said Ceasefire’s Executive Director Mark Lattimer. ‘Their treatment under siege is unbearable – and frequently unlawful.’

In addition to banning attacks that target civilians, indiscriminate attacks, and the terrorizing of the civilian population – all of which are war crimes if done intentionally – IHL prohibits the starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare and places an obligation on parties to conflict to allow humanitarian relief, including the provision of food and water, medical assistance and the evacuation of casualties and other vulnerable civilians. Evacuation should always be voluntary and both those evacuated and those left behind continue to benefit from the right to protection.

Analysing the conduct of recent sieges, including those of Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, the report details how the laying of siege by militaries with very different approaches to the implementation of IHL can similarly result in civilian harm on a massive scale.

Russian attacks on cities in Ukraine have seen numerous reports of IHL violations, such as the targeting of civilian objects, including educational and medical facilities, indiscriminate artillery shelling and the use of cluster munitions in or near residential areas. In an unprecedented move, 41 states including the UK referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court and a war crimes investigation has been opened.

The current style of warfare favoured by the UK and other NATO members, owing much to US doctrine, is based on stand-off, long-distance precision strikes, delivered on an industrial scale. While there may be benefits in terms of force protection, the extensive destruction that results can also be catastrophic for civilians trapped under siege.

‘Public revulsion at the treatment of civilians in cities under siege in Ukraine should spark urgent reflection in militaries around the world,’ added Mr Lattimer. ‘Their playbook may be different, but the end result is disturbingly familiar – mass civilian casualties and widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.’

Despite its devastating effect on civilians in recent years, siege warfare and its particular challenges are not mentioned once in the 2020 NATO Protection of Civilians Handbook – nor in the UK’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy published in 2021.

Ceasefire’s report calls on the UK and other governments to:

  • Review legal guidance and military doctrine to ensure that IHL protections are being fully implemented in situations of siege
  • Improve pre-attack proportionality assessment procedures, including removing the assumption that where civilians are not visible they are not present, and incorporating an estimation of the reverberating effects on civilians
  • As part of current intergovernmental negotiations on a Political Declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, commit to avoiding the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in towns and cities, in particular where civilians are trapped under siege.

 

For further information or interviews, please email contact@ceasefire.org.

ceasefireGlobal resurgence of siege warfare traps civilian populations on the frontline – new report
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The Human Rights Act and Reparations for Civilian Harm: Explained

Read our submission to the consultation on reforming the Human Rights Act here.

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) is a piece of legislation which incorporates the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic UK law. It enables individuals to defend their rights in UK courts, as well as in Strasbourg, and requires public organisations to respect and promote human rights. The HRA contains 16 key rights, including the right to life, right to liberty, and the right to be free from discrimination.

What is the Human Rights Act?

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) is a piece of legislation which aims to incorporate the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. It enables individuals to defend their rights in UK courts, as well as in Strasbourg, and requires public organisations to respect and promote human rights. The HRA contains 16 key rights, including the right to life, right to liberty, and the right to be free from discrimination.

What is the government’s consultation on reform of the HRA?

Successive governments have signalled that they wish to reform the HRA. For example, the Conservatives promised to replace the HRA with a ‘British Bill of Rights’ in their 2015 manifesto, although this did not come to fruition in that parliament.

The current government set up an independent panel, called the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR), in December 2020, to examine how the HRA works 20 years after its creation.

In December 2021, the government published the IHRAR’s report. At the same time, it announced plans to ‘overhaul’ the HRA and replace it with a new Bill of Rights.  It published a paper outlining this proposal in five main areas:

  1. Respecting common law traditions and strengthening the role of the UK Supreme Court
  2. Restoring a sharper focus on protecting fundamental rights
  3. Preventing the incremental expansion of rights without democratic oversight
  4. Introducing responsibilities within the human rights framework
  5. Facilitating dialogue with Strasbourg, while guaranteeing Parliament and the devolved legislatures their proper roles.

The consultation closed on 8 March 2022. The government will publish a report summarising the responses to the consultation and conduct an impact assessment checking how any reforms would impact different groups of people. It will then have to decide if it does indeed want to reform the Human Rights Act and will propose a bill if so.

The government’s plans have been widely decried by human rights organisations including Liberty, The British Institute of Human Rights, and Amnesty International.

What does ‘extraterritorial jurisdiction’ mean in relation to the HRA?

A contentious and difficult issue for both the HRA and ECHR has been the question of whether and in what circumstances the Convention applies to acts carried out in a foreign State, including during armed conflict.

Multiple court cases have confirmed that human rights do indeed apply in certain cases in overseas military operations. For example, when a State party exercises control over a foreign territory or when if it exercises authority over an individual. However, there is still significant debate about which specific circumstances apply.

It is the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA which has allowed some civilians who have been harmed during UK military operations to claim reparations. While there are other legal avenues for individuals to pursue, many of these claims have been brought under the HRA. For more information on this, see CEASEFIRE’s latest report on reparations for civilian harm from UK military operations.

What does the consultation document say about extraterritorial jurisdiction?

Last year, the parliament passed the Overseas Operations Act 2021, albeit in significantly amended form. As part of the legislation, the government had initially proposed imposing a duty on the secretary of state to consider derogating from the ECHR in relation to ‘significant’ overseas operations. While this component of the bill was dropped, the Overseas Operations Act did introduce a new six-year limitation period or ‘longstop’ on claims made under the HRA. The legislation drew criticism from across a broad range of experts. For example, Michael Clarke, former Director General of Royal United Services Institute, argued that the proposals ‘fly in the face of international legal norms’ and former senior military figures and the Law Society lined up to add their criticism.

The government’s consultation paper includes one main section on the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA (pp.277-281). The paper argues that while the HRA and ECHR have created ‘uncertainty’ for members of the armed forces engaging in overseas operations, there is ‘no domestic legislative solution’ to this issue, as it may create a ‘gap’ between the ECHR and domestic legislation.

Instead, the paper adopts the recommendation from the IHRAR panel, which is that the Government raise the issue with other State Parties to the Convention in the hopes of amending the ECHR to limit its applicability in overseas military operations.

What does CEASEFIRE say about this proposal?

The proposals in the consultation paper pose a troubling risk to the rights of civilians in conflict.

Firstly, the proposed approach would be difficult to achieve in practice. Even when there has been widespread recognition of the need for reform within the Convention system and diplomatic will to achieve it, the process of reforming the Convention has usually involved multiple inter-governmental conferences. However, there is no recognised need for this reform. Leaving aside the technical difficulty of the subject matter, such a protocol may also be perceived as an attempt to weaken accountability for abuses by the military forces of powerful States. Given that the most prominent likely supporter of such a protocol, other than the UK, would be the Russian Federation, its promotion in the current circumstances would be politically untenable.

Furthermore, CEASEFIRE’s view is that this should not even be attempted by the government. The HRA has provided civilians with an important mechanism to get some compensation for harm caused by the UK’s military operations, as outlined in our latest report.

Rather than trying to change the application of the law to military operations, the government should take alternative approaches to address underlying problems which lead applicants to use the ECHR/HRA system in the first place.

CEASEFIRE makes the following recommendations to the government:

  1. Improve enforcement of International Humanitarian Law in military operations
  2. Offer alternative, independent and effective forums for complaints to be addressed
  3. Conduct prompt, effective independent and impartial investigations where problems arise in theatre and improve investigation methods
  4. The UK should seek complementary application of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law during military operations, as this is consistent with the UK’s other legal obligations and international legal practice.

Read our submission to the consultation on reforming the HRA here.

Read our report on reparations for civilian harm from UK military operations here.

 

ceasefireThe Human Rights Act and Reparations for Civilian Harm: Explained
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CEASEFIRE submits evidence to the UK government consultation on reform of the Human Rights Act

Read our submission to the consultation on reforming the Human Rights Act here.

CEASEFIRE has submitted a response to the Ministry of Justice consultation to abolish the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and instead replace it with a new Bill of Rights. CEASEFIRE’s submission, drafted by legal expert Dr Stuart Wallace, responds specifically to the section on the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA.

CEASEFIRE’s view is that any attempt to remove overseas military operations from the application of human rights law, whether by means of an international protocol, domestic legislation, or derogation, poses a severe threat to the rights of civilians. The government also faces formidable obstacles in its proposals for this and is unlikely to achieve its aims.

Rather than trying to change the application of the law to military operations, the government should take alternative approaches to address underlying problems which lead applicants to use the ECHR/HRA system in the first place.

CEASEFIRE makes the following recommendations to the government:

  1. Improve enforcement of IHL in military operations
  2. Offer alternative, independent and effective forums for complaints to be addressed
  3. Conduct prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations where alleged violations occur in theatre and improve investigation methods
  4. The UK should seek complementary application of IHL and IHRL during military operations, as this is consistent with the UK’s other legal obligations and international legal practice.

Our report Reparations for Civilian Harm in Military Operations: Towards a UK Policy examines compensation claims for civilians harmed by UK military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these claims are made under the Human Rights Act 1998.

Read our full submission here. Our thanks goes to Dr Stuart Wallace for drafting this submission.

We have also published a short article explaining the HRA, extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA, and what the consultation proposes.

ceasefireCEASEFIRE submits evidence to the UK government consultation on reform of the Human Rights Act
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Official figures reveal only one prosecution of UK armed forces personnel for war crimes overseas since 2001

Official figures reveal only one prosecution of UK armed forces personnel for war crimes overseas since 2001

December 2020

Official figures released by the Ministry of Defence to Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights reveal that since 2001 there has only been one prosecution of UK armed forces personnel for war crimes overseas.

Despite lengthy engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, and evidence of serious abuses by UK service personnel against local civilians, data supplied to Ceasefire under the Freedom of Information Act show that only one war crimes prosecution has been conducted, in over nearly two decades, under the International Criminal Court Act 2001, which brought within UK law those offences of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC. No prosecutions against UK personnel were brought under either the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which first criminalized war crimes in UK law, or under Section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which criminalizes torture.

‘These figures contradict the argument by defence ministers that the Overseas Operations Bill, currently going through Parliament, is required to put an end to “vexatious prosecutions” for war crimes,’ said Rose Burke, Policy Officer at Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights. ‘In reality, there have been none. There should no longer be any doubt that war crimes and torture, along with sexual crimes, should now be exempted from the Bill’s “triple lock” on prosecutions after five years.’

The sole war crimes prosecution relates to the killing of Mr Baha Mousa, an Iraqi civilian from Basra, which later formed the subject of a judicial inquiry. Three members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment were charged, and one convicted in 2007, of inhumane treatment as a war crime under the International Criminal Court Act 2001. An autopsy on Mr Mousa’s body recorded 93 separate injuries.

The MoD figures show that, in addition to the one war crimes prosecution, five prosecutions were conducted for other offences allegedly committed against members of the local population in Iraq (this includes one in relation to the Baha Mousa case) and nine for other offences against the local population in Afghanistan.

In relation to military operations in Iraq:

  • Five prosecutions in total were conducted, in which a total of 25 defendants were charged, and six convicted at court martial. This includes the sole war crimes prosecution.
  • In total seven members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment were tried for the killing of Mr Mousa, the most senior being a colonel. Three were charged with the war crime of inhumane treatment, and five were charged with other offences. All were acquitted except Cpl Donald Payne who was convicted of inhumane treatment but acquitted of manslaughter.
  • It is understood that the convictions listed under ‘other offences committed against the local population’ include those of three members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who were given custodial sentences of up to two years in 2005 after photographs emerged of them abusing Iraqi civilians at Camp Bread Basket, in Basra in 2003.

In relation to military operations in Afghanistan:

  • Nine prosecutions in total were conducted, with a total of 16 defendants
  • Of those 16, none faced prosecution for war crimes or crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001, but were prosecuted for ‘other offences against the local population’. Nine convictions were secured at court martial.
  • The killing of a wounded Taliban fighter, who was hors de combat, in Helmand province in September 2011 led to the prosecution of three members of the Royal Marines, of whom two were acquitted. Sgt Alexander Blackman was convicted at court martial of murder in 2013, reduced on appeal to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility. Despite being recorded at the time of the killing as saying ‘I just broke the Geneva Convention’, he was never charged with a war crime.

It emerged in June that the Service Prosecuting Authority had closed all but one of the remaining legacy investigations from Iraq and that any further prosecutions were now unlikely.

The sole prosecution and conviction for a war crime committed in UK overseas military operations demonstrates that the Overseas Operations Bill, which includes a ‘presumption against prosecution’ after five years for alleged war crimes committed by British troops abroad, is fundamentally misguided.

Although there have been few prosecutions, the MoD has approved payments totalling £20 million to settle over 300 cases of alleged violations committed by UK service personnel in Iraq alone, including in relation to conduct which falls within the definition of war crimes. The Overseas Operations Bill introduces an absolute long-stop of six years on claims against the MoD from either service personnel or civilians who have suffered harm.

‘With the release of these figures, the real purpose of the Overseas Operations Bill has now become obvious. It is not to protect UK armed forces from prosecution, but to shield the government from liability,’ said Mark Lattimer, Ceasefire’s Director. ‘It should be renamed the MoD protection bill.’

The new data form a more comprehensive account than the one given to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on 5 October by Damian Parmenter, Director of Defence and Security Industrial Strategy at the MoD, and follow a review of the historic prosecutions before the establishment of the Service Prosecuting Authority in 2009. Ceasefire wrote last week to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court to provide her with the latest figures.

This information comes as the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has announced the closure of her preliminary examination of the UK’s record in Iraq. The Prosecutor found that there was a reasonable basis to believe that UK servicemen committed war crimes including wilful killing/murder, torture and inhuman/cruel treatment, but declined to pursue a full investigation because it was not shown that the UK had acted to shield perpetrators from justice.

Notes for editors:

  1. The updated MoD response to Ceasefire’s FOI request is available here.
  2. Ceasefire’s briefing on the Overseas Operations Bill is available here. Ceasefire argues that the bill will not only limit accountability for abuses by UK armed forces but will also remove avenues for redress for civilian victims, violating the UK’s legal obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law.
SianOfficial figures reveal only one prosecution of UK armed forces personnel for war crimes overseas since 2001
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UK Overseas Operations Bill violates civilian rights

September 2020

Draft legislation in the UK will restrict the rights of civilian war victims to claim compensation for the harm they have suffered, further marginalising some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

The Overseas Operations Bill, which will be debated in Parliament on September 23rd, not only creates a de facto statute of limitations for crimes committed by the UK’s armed forces overseas, including for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but it also creates an absolute statute of limitations or ‘longstop’ of six years for civil claims and claims under the Human Rights Act brought against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

SianUK Overseas Operations Bill violates civilian rights
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UK overseas operations bill: ‘Suppress the violations, not those who expose them’

March 2020

Described by defence ministers as an attack on ‘lawfare’, the UK government today introduced a new bill creating limits on accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights committed by UK armed forces overseas. CEASEFIRE believes the proposals undermine the UK’s international obligations to suppress war crimes and the crime of torture.

SianUK overseas operations bill: ‘Suppress the violations, not those who expose them’
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Ending enforced disappearance: from Baghdad to Belfast

January 2018

Pooling international best practice to support Iraq in ending enforced disappearances was the theme of a combined study and advocacy tour to Belfast and London undertaken by leading Iraqi MPs last month, organized by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights in partnership with the Institute for International Law and Human Rights.

Iraq has faced the recurring problem of enforced disappearances at many times in its recent history, and all Iraq’s communities have been affected. Thousands of people remain missing, even just from the latest phase of the conflict. In 2010 Iraq acceded to the International Convention on Enforced Disappearance but it has yet to enact any implementing legislation.

Following an agreement with the Human Rights Committee of the Iraqi Parliament, Ceasefire and IILHR have provided technical assistance in reviewing draft legislation in line with international standards.

In December, key members and officials of the Iraqi Human Rights Committee responsible for the bill came to London and Belfast to hold discussions with academics specializing in transitional justice from the School of African and Oriental Studies – University of London, Queen’s University Belfast, MPs and Peers, UK Foreign Office officials, relevant NGOs and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (NI).

Photo caption: MPs from the Iraqi delegation meet in Belfast with Ceasefire and IILHR staff and the lead forensic investigator for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (December 2017)

SianEnding enforced disappearance: from Baghdad to Belfast
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