Friday, June 8, 2018

IHAT and all that

The Guardian has this lengthy piece by Samira Shackle about the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) and related investigations, and where the path now leads. Excerpt:
[O]ver the past three years, the question of whether British soldiers committed crimes in Iraq, and the scale on which it happened, has been largely displaced by outrage over attempts to investigate them. In the media, rhetoric has shifted radically – from horror at the alleged crimes of British soldiers, to outrage against human rights lawyers pursuing such allegations. “Mr Cameron MUST stop these vile witch-hunts against our brave troops,” read a 2016 column in the Daily Mail. Conservative politicians have echoed this line. David Cameron, then prime minister, promised to stop “spurious” claims. Defence secretary Michael Fallon criticised “unscrupulous” lawyers; armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt described these lawyers’ actions as the “enemy of justice”. When Cameron left office, his successor, Theresa May, lambasted “activist, leftwing human rights lawyers”.

The target of most of these complaints from cabinet ministers has been an investigation launched by the UK government itself. The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) was set up by the Labour government in 2010, to draw a line under lingering allegations from an unpopular war and dispatch the idea that military misconduct was widespread. It aimed to investigate credible claims of abuses in Iraq and secure criminal prosecutions where appropriate. But if Ihat was supposed to be a way to decisively establish guilt or innocence, it failed spectacularly.

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