Govt wins right to deny troops' human rights

Govt wins right to deny troops human rights
Govt wins right to deny troops human rights

By Ian Dunt

The government has won a supreme court appeal confirming that troops are not protected by the Human Rights Act.

The government had originally lost the case, and then the appeal, but a final supreme court decision was allowed, which went in the government's favour this morning.

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Phillips, said: "The court has held that those who concluded the human rights convention shortly after the Second World War agreed to except obligations in relation to the way in which they treated those within their own countries.

"Only in exceptional circumstances did they agree that the convention should impose obligations on them in relation to those outside their territorial jurisdiction.

"Decisions of the European court in Strasbourg have identified those exceptional circumstances and the court has not held that they extend to servicemen abroad."

The case relates to the death by heatstroke of Pte Jason Smith in Iraq in 2003.

An inquest blamed a "serious failure" to recognise the difficulties Mr Smith, from the Scottish Borders, had had adjusting to the climate.

His family the began a test case with Mr Justice Collins saying that sending soldiers to battle without proper kit could breach human rights law.

The government argued it was simply impossible to ensure soldiers conditions complied with human rights legislation in the battle field.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: "Amnesty International regrets today's Supreme Court decision, as it is not in keeping with the protection of fundamental human rights.

"The UK's human rights obligations extend outside the country to anybody within its power or effective control. This includes members of the armed services - people in uniform have human rights too."


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