While the UK has shut down its Iraq Historic Allegations Team, which investigated reported crimes committed by UK soldiers in Iraq, the ICC has said it will further examine allegations of war crimes.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said that it will further examine allegations of war crimes committed by soldiers from the UK in Iraq.

Speaking to TRT World, the ICC said: “[The] findings concerning alleged war crimes by UK troops could be highly relevant to the Office's ongoing work and examination.”

The ICC statement went on to add: “The Office [ICC] will independently and objectively assess the findings in accordance with the applicable legal criteria under the Rome Statute - the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.”

An exclusive investigation by two media outlets found that the UK government has been complicit in the cover-up of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A member of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), speaking to the British investigative television programme Panorama said: "The Ministry of Defence had no intention of prosecuting any soldier of whatever rank he was unless it was absolutely necessary, and they couldn't wriggle their way out of it."

The British government has denied the allegations and defended its decision to close down IHAT, which was set up to look at abuses by British personnel.

In 2010, the UK government set up IHAT to deal with a significant volume of allegations that the British military had engaged in the killing and torture of civilians between 2003 and 2009 during the occupation of Iraq.

One of the most high-profile cases proved to be that of Baha Mussa, who was killed while in the custody of British forces in the aftermath of the British occupation in 2003.

Mussa, a hotel receptionist, was detained by British soldiers alongside several other men. The coroner ruled that his death was due to a lack “of food and water, heat, exhaustion, fear, previous injuries and the hooding and stress positions used by British troops - and a final struggle with his guards”.

The judge presiding over the case at the time said that it was an “appalling episode of serious gratuitous violence". As a result of that investigation and others like it, the UK government set up IHAT.

ICC investigation

The ICC has been looking at alleged war crimes by the UK since 2011 after receiving information regarding abuses that may have been committed.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has submitted evidence to the ICC on “widespread and systematic abuse of hundreds of detainees by UK armed forces personnel”.

The ECCHR has also expressed its dismay that the UK “has to date entirely failed to address the extent to which the abuse was the result of systemic issues as well as to investigate or prosecute those most responsible for the crimes”.

The human rights body went on to add that “domestic proceedings have led to a handful of prosecutions against lower-level soldiers only”.

In 2017, the then UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon closed IHAT after a cost more than $60 million. During its lifespan, more than 3,500 allegations, including murder and torture, were reported to IHAT.

Fallon at the time called many of the allegations brought forward to the investigating team to be “spurious”.

Source: TRT World