ICC Prosecutor Reopens Preliminary Examination of Alleged Crimes by UK Soldiers in Iraq

Today in a press release, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC announced that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has decided to reopen the preliminary investigation into alleged detainee abuse between 2003 and 2008 by UK armed forces deployed in Iraq.  An initial investigation by former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo into the accusations was closed in 2006; however, the OTP said today that the investigation would be reopened based on “new information received by the Office [that] alleges the responsibility of officials of the United Kingdom for war crimes involving systematic detainee abuse in Iraq from 2003 until 2008.” The release provides further details:

“On 10 January 2014, the Office of the Prosecutor received a new communication from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (“ECCHR”) together with the Public Interest Lawyers (“PIL”), alleging the responsibility of officials of the United Kingdom for war crimes involving systematic detainee abuse in Iraq from 2003 until 2008. The United Kingdom deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute on 4 October 2001. The ICC has therefore jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed on the territory of the United Kingdom, or by UK nationals as of 1 July 2002, representing the date of the entry into force of the Rome Statute.

Based on an initial assessment of the information received, the 10 January 2014 communication provides further information that was not available to the Office in 2006. In particular, the communication alleges a higher number of cases of ill-treatment of detainees and provides further details on the factual circumstances and the geographical and temporal scope of the alleged crimes. The Prosecutor will therefore conduct a preliminary examination in order to analyse the seriousness of the information received, in accordance with the requirements of article 15(2) of the Rome Statute, and ultimately determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.”

Stay tuned for further analysis of this new development. 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).