The Overseas Operations Bill will strip British Armed Forces of their rights, undermine their international reputation and could put them at greater risk, the Law Society warned on 23 September, as new measures go for debate in Parliament for the second time.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) intends to introduce a presumption against prosecution for allegations – including of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment – against armed forces personnel relating to events more than five years past and to place a time limit on compensation claims.
Vice president David Greene said: “Only the MoD stands to gain from the proposed time limit on compensation claims, as it would avoid having to pay court-awarded damages and costs. If claims are blocked by the Bill the MoD would also be less likely to learn from past mistakes and improve practices.
“Worse, the time limit could prevent Armed Forces personnel, other MoD employees and civilians being recompensed for injuries suffered and medical conditions caused by military activities. We believe this would be a gross injustice both to those who have dedicated their lives to their country and to innocent victims.”
The Bill also commits government to consider derogating from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) before future conflicts – a move which we strongly condemn.