British Concern Over Iraq Civilian Deaths

The British Army’s senior legal chief, Lt. Colonel Nicholas Mercer, expressed concerns about the death of Iraq civilians while under control of British troops as long ago as in 2003. Hies repeated warnings were ignored at “all levels” of the government and military. In May, 2003, just as the invasion of Iraq had wiped out large sections of the Iraq Army, Col. Mercer wrote expressing his concern that “there have recently been a number of deaths in custody where Iraqi civiilians have died while being held by various units in theater.” This was a year before the alleged execution of 20 prisoners by British troops which was publicly revealed this past week.

Colonel Meercer tried to put into place a detention policy based on one praised by the UN in East Timor that was to be overseen by a UK judge but it was “consistently blocked.” He also met resistence to his argument the Geneva Convention should apply to prisoners “at every level.. both political and legal.”

The usual response to such charges is although a few hundred thousand soldiers served in Iraq there has only been a handful of cases in which brutality has been claimed. Of course, that same argument could be made about any prison in the world. Abuse is abuse and it can not be allowed by members of armed forces.