Thursday, September 22, 2016

RMP investigating abuse allegations from Afghanistan

The Guardian reports here on a major investigative effort by the Royal Military Police into allegations of abuse said to have been committed by British military personnel in Afghanistan. From the article:
Two law firms, Leigh Day and Public Interest Lawyers in Birmingham, are now facing disciplinary action after the government lodged complaints with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) over Iraq cases commenced by both firms. Both firms deny any wrongdoing. 
The Law Society, however, on Thursday accused the government of attempting to undermine the rule of law by intimidating solicitors who pursue legitimate cases.
The Law Society president, Robert Bourns, said: “The rule of law protects and holds every single one of us accountable, from the most powerful to the most vulnerable.
“Military personnel should have the ability to pursue claims for wrongdoing and should also be held to account if their conduct breaches international laws. Lawyers are also held to account if their actions violate their professional code of ethics or break the law. Each case must be based on merit, without prejudice. 
“Lawyers must not be hindered or intimidated in carrying out their professional duties and acting in the best interests of their clients within the law. They should not be identified with their clients or clients cases. This principle is set out in the United Nations basic principles on the role of lawyers. 
“The right to access to justice for all depends on lawyers being able to represent their clients’ cases within our framework of laws, no matter how the client or case may be perceived by the public, media or government. The merits of each case are decided by the relevant court, a function that is and must remain separate from government.”
The full Law Society statement can be found here. As of August 31, 2016, Public Interest Lawyers has closed its doors.

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