Veterans of war to be protected by the government over historic offences such as alleged war crimes
The Conservatives have vowed to end what Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has called “vexatious claims” against serving military personnel, as well as veterans who they say have been hounded and repeatedly investigated for alleged war crimes such as abuse of detainees and unlawful killing.
The new bill, that will be introduced on Wednesday, proposes a five-year statute of limitation on criminal prosecutions from the date of an incident, unless there is new and compelling evidence.
This is as well as a six-year limit for civil cases involving personal injury or death whilst overseas.
The Ministry of Defence have said that armed forces operations in Iraq alone had resulted in nearly 1,000 compensation claims for unlawful detention, personal injury and death.
That is on top on around 1,400 judicial review claims seeking investigations and compensation over alleged human rights violations.
Ben Wallace said in the House of Commons on Monday, that the bill would “deal with overseas operations” only.
This bill could have huge implications for Northern Ireland
The bill will apparently be accompanied by a statement from the Northern Ireland Office, who will detail how the government would deal with Northern Ireland veterans.
“They will be as equal, as similar, to the protections we’re going to look at overseas,” Mr Wallace added.
This means the bill would have a large impact on the cases of killings that took place during the Troubles.
It would see that the vast majority of almost 2,000 unsolved cases closed and prevented in legislation from ever being re-opened. This is something that would deeply upset hundreds of families.
Grainne Teggart, Amnesty UK campaigns manager for Northern Ireland, said:
“This is the latest attempt by the Government to close down paths to justice.”
“These proposals are a further betrayal of victims already let down by the Government’s failure to put in place mechanisms to deliver truth, justice and accountability.”