Overseas Operations Bill: Government facing calls to rethink plan to 'decriminalise torture' by UK troops
Torture has been prohibited under international law since nineteen forty eight and is enshrined in legal instruments such as the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention Against Torture. But the British government is trying to push through the overseas operation bill which would introduce a stronger legal protection for UK soldiers serving abroad critics believe it will make overseas operations worse the victims of war crimes and for the UK standing in the world bill passed its second reading in Parliament on Wednesday and three Labor backbench peace had been sucked for voting against. Well Tracy joy is head of accountability and international cousy at freedom from torture, and she joins me on the line to tell us more good morning tracy. What does this bill exactly seek to achieve? Good morning to a gina the do a apparently according to the government seeks to provide greater protection for British troops against vacations claim that might have been brought from operations. That happened overseas more than five years ago. what we believe that it does actually is to create a barrier to justice with those he might have been subjected to war crimes by British troops in those are the operation. I mean, the government says that it is doing this for the soldiers but we've seen very very senior military personnel and ex personal come out to say that they'd gravely concerned about the signal. It sends I mean field marshals, generals, frontline veterans of expressed grave concerns that what are that precise objections? I think the objections that many hold is that and to summarize the words that you spoke in parliament that this legislation really is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I think that the is acceptance that perhaps the prices that some soldiers have been involved in have taken Fawzi Long. But that really the problem of investigation and the government is seeking to legislate to solve the problem that would be better served through. BITTU. Protesters right at the beginning and more independent and speedy investigation I. mean the government denies that there will be any barrier to justice under these Nino's. It does say presumption against prosecution for torture and crime except in exceptional circumstances, what signal is the sending internationally It's very interesting that they say that but It seems unlikely that you would say that there's no buried to justice when actually they specifically introduced. Three layers of legal protection that would stop prosecutions that would've normally have preceded. And the signal that sins therefore is that they would be sick instances in which to torture would be deemed to be unexceptional and we find that quite startling. Actually, how could the government argue that torture could ever be unexceptional? I mean rape is excluded from from the provisions. That's obviously a good thing torture isn't does not mean that torture is a lesser crime. Well, that seems to be exactly the signal that the government is sending that I mean, obviously, it's excellent that sexual violence and raped or created and the Minister of Defense Been Wallace argued in parliament that the crimes that should never take place on the battlefield. Well, we would that torture should also never take place and it seems quite absurd that they would say out to give the impression that torture and other crimes against humanity as you say, Lesser Crime Than Sexual.