British Soldier Rights Denied

Private Jason Smith was deployed in the British army to Iraq in 2003 and while there died of heatstroke. His parents instituted legal proceedings whose goal was ensuring that UK soldiers while serving outside the country were entitled to all rights of British citizens. A local judge upheld the complaint of the Smith family, but the supreme court has ruled otherwise. However, it did uphold the right of the family for a full inquest into the death of their son. The supreme court was asked to decide whether a British solider on military service in Iraq is covered by human rights not only on base but also when off base. The court declared it was uncertain whether serving in the military is an example of “exceptional circumstances” that allow human rights procedures to apply when outside the territorial jurisdiction of an organization. It said the ultimate decision in this case must be decided by the European Court of Human Rights.

Jocelyn Cockburn who represented Mrs. Smith was shocked by the decision. “Is the court say that the moment a soldier steps over the line in the sand and is ‘off base’ that he has no rights?” Hopefully, another court will decide a different way.

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