The Guardian view on prosecuting war crimes: no one is above the law | Editorial

The brand new defence secretary should keep in mind that the guideline of regulation can simplest be upheld through watching it

The limelight used to be all the time going to be on Penny Mordaunt as defence secretary. A Brexiter accused through the ultimate high minister of mendacity to win, she is now touted as Theresa Would possibly’s emotionally clever successor. She did not anything to dispel such hypothesis with a speech on Wednesday, promising to give protection to squaddies from “lawfare” – a pejorative time period coined to explain using a rustic’s felony device to undermine its defences. Ms Mordaunt mentioned she would search a presumption towards prosecution for offences dedicated in clash greater than a decade in the past – overlaying the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and search a long run opt-out of the Eu conference on human rights.

This is a part of a well-known narrative in regards to the hounding of British squaddies through what is said are money-grabbing attorneys launching ill-founded circumstances into alleged wartime abuse. It’s true that one legal professional who acted for torture sufferers used to be discovered accountable of misconduct and struck off as a solicitor. However the paintings of the Iraq Historical Allegations Staff additionally noticed the Ministry of Defence paying out thousands and thousands of kilos in reimbursement to sufferers of abuse in loads of circumstances. Trendy armies must conform to world humanitarian regulation and are rightly held to account in the event that they don’t. This ought now not hinder clash and post-conflict operations. It will have to be sure they’re felony. Finishing violations would finish the litigation. There are about 150 circumstances exceptional; alleged sufferers and perpetrators ought to peer justice.

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