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Iraq: Detainees

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 132798, tabled on 30 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the December 2020 International Criminal Court report entitled Situation in Iraq/UK, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the reported flawed guidance in interrogation procedures used in Iraq between 2003 and 2009.

Answered on

11 January 2021

The International Criminal Court (ICC)’s report entitled “Situation in Iraq/UK”, published on 9 December 2020, brings to an end its long running examination into allegations of war crimes by UK personnel in Iraq, with the finding that there is no basis on which to proceed to a full investigation.

The UK Government maintains a clear policy framework governing detention, interrogation and the passing and receipt of intelligence relating to detainees. It does not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone, and in no circumstance will UK personnel ever be authorised to take action amounting to, unlawful killing, the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (“CIDT”), or extraordinary rendition.

Joint Doctrine Publication (JDP) 1-10, Captured Persons, is the capstone doctrine publication for all Captured Persons activities. It provides detailed direction and guidance to UK Armed Forces involved in planning, training for or conducting captured persons activities. Importantly, it also reflects the UK Government’s policy and guidance resulting from recent operations.

Complimenting JDP 1-10 are The Principles Relating to the Detention and Interviewing of Detainees Overseas and the Passing and Receipt of Intelligence Relating to Detainees. These follow a thorough review of existing guidance to be as clear as possible about the standards under which the intelligence agencies and our Armed Forces operate.

The use of approved verbal and non-physical techniques remains vital if we are to retain the ability to secure swiftly in appropriate circumstances intelligence that can save lives. These techniques are non-threatening and do not cause physical harm.

However, the prohibition on the ‘five techniques’, introduced in 1972, remains in force, as set out in JDP 1-10. The prohibited techniques were redefined following the 2010 Baha Mousa public inquiry as: Stress positions; Hooding; Subjection to noise; Deprivation of sleep and rest; and, Deprivation of food and water. These techniques must never be used for any purpose.

The UK takes all alleged incidents of this kind very seriously, and allegations against UK personnel are investigated. Regrettably, as previously acknowledged, for example in the Baha Mousa Inquiry published in 2011, unauthorised use of the ‘five techniques’ were used by elements of UK forces in Iraq.

With regard to compensation, as a matter of policy, when claims are received, they are investigated and considered on the basis of whether the MOD has a legal liability; and where there is such a liability, compensation is paid.

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