» Friday, May 7, 2004


Asked about the latest claims and pictures relating to allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by British troops, the PMS said that the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch was carrying out an investigation. That was continuing. Asked the Government’s view of the pictures, the PMS repeated that the SIB was carrying out an investigation. It would not be helpful to pre-empt their findings. Asked if the Prime Minister had been made aware of the allegations made by Soldier ‘C’, the PMS repeated that the SIB was investigating. She had no intention of providing a running commentary on how the investigation was progressing.

Asked if the Prime Minister was prepared for British troops to operate outside Basra in the light of Geoff Hoon’s indication in his Guardian interview today that Ministers were reluctant to issue authorisation for them to do so, the PMS said that that suggestion was based merely on a media interpretation of Mr Hoon’s comments. She pointed out that Mr Hoon had also underlined in his interview that no decision had yet been taken on the issue of troop deployments. That remained the position. Asked the Prime Minister’s view of the matter, the PMS said that she had just spelled it out. As her colleague had been telling journalists the whole week, this issue was kept under constant review, as you would expect, and no decision had been taken at this stage. That remained the case. Pressed repeatedly as to whether the Prime Minister was prepared to send British troops to serve outside Basra, the PMS repeated that no decision had been taken about sending any extra troops to the region. The situation was kept under constant review. She had nothing further to add to what she had already said about this issue.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Presumably if Donald Rumsden has to resign over US abuse of Iraqi prisoners, then Geoff Hoon must follow suit over similar revelations in the Daily Mirror about UK forces?

    Comment by Patrick Haseldine — 7 May 2004 on 11:54 pm | Link
  2. Unlikely because the American torture allegations are a lot more serious and have a lot more evidence behind them. Also Geoff Hoon has survived worse and the specific Daily Mirro allegations are very shaky. However British people care a lot more about this sort of thing than yanks though British troops have done it before it is not widely known unlike with American troops in vietnam who everyone went around raping, burning down villages and killing women and children on their govts orders

    Comment by John Murphy — 8 May 2004 on 5:23 pm | Link
  3. The call by former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook (and by the Tories and LibDems) for the interim report by the ICRC, submitted to the British government in February, to be published is likely to be fended off by Geoff Hoon in his Commons statement tomorrow on the rather shaky grounds of confidentiality.

    We may thus be denied sight of an independent report into British abuse but, thanks to the Internet, we can read the full US Army Report on Torture of Iraqis in Abu Ghraib Prison at <a href="http://www.thememoryhole.org/war/iraqis_tortured/taguba_report.htm">http://www.thememoryhole.org/war/iraqis_tortured/taguba_report.htm</a&gt;

    Comment by Patrick Haseldine — 9 May 2004 on 4:26 pm | Link
  4. If the government knew about the mistreatment of Iraq prisoners why did they not act on this information?

    Mary Billing

    Comment by mary billing — 9 May 2004 on 6:11 pm | Link
  5. You’ve hit the toe on the nail, Mary!

    Why didn’t the government act on this information as soon as it was received?

    Comment by Patrick Haseldine — 9 May 2004 on 9:28 pm | Link
  6. Now is the time for the UK government to differentiate itself from its US counterparts, by not letting the media be the people to extract every single detail out of them. The Bush government has become synonymous with a complete lack of cooperation until their backs are against the wall; time to prove that a more modern democracy is less afraid of its citizens.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 10 May 2004 on 12:17 am | Link
  7. What is the spread of UK public opinion concerning the leeway soldiers at war are given?

    Comment by Tom — 10 May 2004 on 10:08 am | Link
  8. Is it possible for troops to occupy a foreign country and act completely above board? Isn’t this sort of thing always going to happen? possibly does it need to happen – particularly in the sort of combat occuring now in Iraq?

    Exactly how are forces meant to get information from prisoners? bad language? feather dusters?

    I don’t mean to condone these actions – but if people are for intervention and occupation – then possibly they should be a little less naive about how it all happens.

    Comment by Lodjer — 10 May 2004 on 12:00 pm | Link
  9. One might say that the nature of the military is such that any armed force, regardless of creed, color, or nation of origin, will become involved in these kinds of acts.

    One can also say that the military, because it is a system whereby individuals are broken down and reformed from constituent parts, and essentially drilled to provide a specific role and tightly managed, is the last place this kind of thing should need to happen.

    Unfortunately, the latter isn’t entirely true of the military; but it’s not entirely untrue either, so the former doesn’t absolutely apply. In the end, policy and the repercussions for transgressions are what define a just army from an unjust one (separate from the ‘just war’ vs. ‘unjust war’ argument).

    For example, the individuals may be punished – justice brought – but if the problem was policy, then the problem is outside of the individuals in question, and punishment or justice must instead be sought against the policymakers.

    So a lot depends on how it’s handled; abuse, if dealt with, can be minimised and managed – a ‘harm reduction’ approach to human rights, with the assumption that it’s impossible to avoid a few bad eggs. If the problem is policy, though, the repercussions of abuse are far more wide-reaching, and far more difficult to provide justice for; individuals who commit atrocities walk free, while policymakers can and often are shielded from any real criminal punishment.

    The true test of justice is justice in the light of a failure of policy, when the victim and the inflicting party are gray, blurred lines; when the blame belongs at least partially on those who are in theory responsible for executing justice, in a military system where the judicial and the executive are often intermingled if not inseparable.

    This is probably the best reason yet why the Supreme Court should consider the case of Guantanamo, and for that matter, all prisoners, as being something that falls under their jurisdiction – for if it isn’t under the Supreme Court’s, and it isn’t under the ICC, then all that’s left is a self-monitored executive branch without checks and balances.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 10 May 2004 on 2:54 pm | Link
  10. For an accessible and well written overview of the responsibilities that occupying forces undertake in the wake of an international armed conflict, check out "Minding the Gap: Outlining KFOR Accountability in Post-conflict Kosovo" by John Cerone.

    Available at:

    <a href="http://www.ejil.org/journal/Vol12/No3/120469.pdf">http://www.ejil.org/journal/Vol12/No3/120469.pdf</a&gt;

    Comment by Tom — 10 May 2004 on 2:54 pm | Link
  11. Geoff Hoon claimed today in the House that Soldier ‘C’s allegations were investigated last year, and called them "recycled."

    Comment by Backword Dave — 10 May 2004 on 5:16 pm | Link
  12. Damned effective recycling; the recycled product is thousands of times more effective than the original.

    No wonder nobody in Britain believes in recycling.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 10 May 2004 on 11:17 pm | Link
  13. well, we should always buy recycled products to help support our environment;..

    Comment by Knife Sets  — 13 Oct 2010 on 6:44 pm | Link

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