BRITISH troops were told to hood Iraqis and use banned ‘stressing’ techniques when interrogating them, human rights lawyer Phil Shiner claimed yesterday at a press conference outside parliament.
He was speaking after Law Lords ruled 4-1 that anyone detained by British forces in Iraq, or anywhere in the world, is protected by the Human Rights Act.
Shiner revealed that there was a ‘written order’ to hood prisoners during the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and demanded to see the advice given by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to British commanders on the eve of the war about the conduct of their troops.
He queried whether the right people had been charged with the right offences over Baha Mousa’s death and accused the government of suppressing damning evidence from a recent court martial, including ‘a video showing hooded and cuffed detainees being verbally and physically abused as they were man-handled into the UK’s preferred stress position’.
‘Baha Mousa’s family and the public are entitled to know the answer to a number of pressing questions,’ said Shiner.
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: ‘British soldiers died in a war fought in the name of human rights. Yet our government argued that the Human Rights Act had no place in Iraq.’
She said the government must now be held to account.
The Law Lords made their ruling following the death of Baha Mousa in British military custody in Iraq in September 2003.
The 26-year-old hotel receptionist was seized by British armed forces in a raid on Haitham Hotel and allegedly tortured and beaten to death by British soldiers over a period of 36 hours.
When he died, he was found to have 93 separate injuries to his body.
Liberty and Shiner – acting for Baha Mousa’s family – demanded an independent public inquiry to expose what orders and training was given to the British troops sent into Iraq.
Shami Chakrabarti and Phil Shiner said it was not a case of a ‘few bad apples’ but a ‘systemic’ abuse of Iraqis using techniques banned in the British army under the Heath government in 1972.
Chakrabarti hailed the Law Lords ruling, saying it meant there could ‘never be’ a British Guantanamo, but warned it was sinister that techniques such as sleep deprivation, food deprivation, stressing and noise banned under Heath could reappear in ‘Blair’s army’.
Phil Shiner said Baha Mousa’s case was not the only case of an Iraqi detainee who had been killed or tortured in the custody of British forces.
‘This is a massive breakthrough in my clients’ efforts to secure accountability for deaths and torture in detention,’ Shiner said.
Shiner said that a ‘multiple of soldiers’ at a small British base – where his screams would have clearly been heard – were responsible for Baha Mousa’s death.
Colonel Daoud Mousa, Baha Mousa’s father, said yesterday: ‘I am very pleased with this judgment.
‘I hope that as a result of this judgment the truth will come out and that no other family should have to experience what me and my grandchildren have gone through.’