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British HC pooh-poohs international inquiry

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When substantial evidence surfaced on systematic torture against detainees of war in Iraq, British High Commissioner in Colombo yesterday flatly ruled out the possibility of any International Criminal Court (ICC) Investigation.
“Allegations relating to Iraq that have been brought to our attention are subjected to thorough examination – including through the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, independent Public Inquiries, and in the UK and European courts. If approached by the ICC, we will take the opportunity to explain the very extensive work underway to deal with historic allegations of abuse,” a spokesperson from the British High Commission told ‘The Nation’.

A devastating 250-page dossier, detailing allegations of beatings, electrocution, mock executions and sexual assault, has been presented to the International Criminal Court, and could result in some of Britain’s leading defence figures facing prosecution for “systematic” war crimes, Britain’s The Independent reported.

General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army; former Defence Secretary Geoff  Hoon; and former Defence Minister Adam Ingram are among those named in the report, entitled “The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008”.

“We reject any suggestion that the UK’s Armed Forces – who operate in line with domestic and international law – have systematically tortured detainees. There is no evidence whatsoever that Ministers or senior officers or officials were aware of or complicit in acts of wrongdoing by military personnel in Iraq,” the HC spokesperson said.

When asked as to why the UK government leaves little or no space for a similar domestic inquiry in Sri Lanka, the Spokesman said his government has made its position clear on the matter.
“The UK has consistently called for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka and has supported calls for a domestic investigation that meets these important standards. During his visit to Sri Lanka for CHOGM, Prime Minister David Cameron said that the UK would use its position in the UN Human Rights Council to support the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish an independent international investigation into conflict related crimes, if Sri Lanka failed to set up a credible, transparent and independent domestic process by March 2014” the HC Spokesperson said.

However, Sri Lanka has been categorically stating that the government has embarked upon a comprehensive domestic inquiry, at various levels, regarding alleged disappearances, war crimes and HR violation allegations.
 

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