LEGAL proceedings have been issued in the High Court against the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) saying that the agency’s involvement in a ‘kill list’ of Afghan targets is unlawful.
Proceedings are being brought by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of Habib Rahman who lost two of his brothers, two of his uncles and his father-in-law in a missile attack on 2 September 2010.
Mr Rahman’s cousin, Abdul Wahab Khorasani, is a former Parliamentary candidate for Takhar province in Afghanistan and the family were assisting with the campaign.
The attack occurred while they were out campaigning in the Rustaq district of Takhar province. In total, the attack killed 10 civilians and injured several more election campaign workers and relatives of Mr Rahman.
The International Security Assistance Force at the time called the attack ‘a precision air strike’ saying ‘initial reflections indicate 8 to 12 insurgents were killed or injured in the strike, including a Taleban commander.’
Evidence suggests the strike was aimed at a person whose name had been added to a list of individuals known variously as the Joint Prioritised Effects List or Joint Integrated Prioritised Target List.
The effect of adding a person’s name to the list is to designate that person as an enemy combatant, who as such may be targeted and potentially killed.
An official public report to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate (the US Senate Report) described the list as a ‘kill list,’ stating that, ‘The military places no restrictions on the use of force with these selected targets, which means they can be killed or captured on the battlefield.’
Leigh Day claim that UK civilians working for SOCA are involved in or contribute to the compilation, review, administration and/or execution of the List.
The firm argues that SOCA’s involvement in the List is unlawful in that it exceeds the agency’s statutory mandate and powers.
Rosa Curling from Leigh Day, who is representing Mr Rahman, said: ‘Our government argues that the UK’s presence in Afghanistan is needed in order to help establish and maintain democracy and the rule of law.
‘The UK government has no hope of doing this, if at the same time it is itself involved in the unlawful killing of civilians in Afghanistan. We cannot have civilian law enforcement official involved in military operations.
‘Our client lost five of his relatives as a result of a “precision air strike” related to the “Kill List”.’