(CN) – The United Kingdom violated human rights during the occupation of Iraq in 2003, the European Court of Human Rights ruled, ordering it to pay about $300,000 in damages and expenses.
In one final judgment, the court said the UK should have conducted independent investigations into charges of abuse and wrongful death of Iraqis. The UK also violated a man’s rights by detaining him for three years without charge, the court said in a separate ruling.
The families of six Iraqi nationals who died in Basra, a city in Iraq’s southeast that saw heavy combat during the first months of the 2003 invasion, brought their case against the UK to the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, France.
Four of the deaths were alleged accidents, while another apparently involved beatings and torture. The other death was that of a 15-year-old. Soldiers had “taught a lesson” to the boy and other youths supposedly caught looting by forcing them into a river. The boy could not swim and drowned.
Baha Mousa, the 26-year-old son of an Iraqi policeman, was detained and died of asphyxiation in the course of a military investigation. His corpse was covered in blood and 93 injuries, while a witness said he and others were beaten, refused food, hooded and forced to maintain stress positions.
The British military later gave Mousa’s family nearly $1 million in compensation.
Since the UK assumed sovereignty in Iraq, it was responsible for security there, establishing a “jurisdictional link” to the human rights treaty, the Strasbourg court ruled. This countered a UK court’s claim that all cases except Mousa’s fell outside of its responsibility to uphold the human rights rules in Iraq.
The human rights court ruled that, aside from Mousa, the British military failed to properly investigate whether British soldiers had acted within the rules of engagement in the other five cases, since its investigations were not independent.
Regarding the man who was detained in Basra for three years without formally being charged, the human rights court said that a United Nations resolution on the invasion and occupation in Iraq never intended for the suspension of human rights at internment camps there.
The UK in 2007 stripped Hilal Abdul-Razzaq Ali Al-Jedda of citizenship it had granted in 2000, accusing him of helping terrorists. During a visit to Iraq in 2004, Al-Jedda was arrested and detained for three years without being charged, receiving a trial or having evidence presented against him.
The human rights court, with one dissenting opinion, said the UK violated Al-Jedda’s rights to liberty and security, ordering it to pay him around $90,000 for damages and expenses. Al-Jedda currently lives in Turkey.
For the five deaths, each family was granted around $24,000 in damages, also collectively receiving about $70,000 for expenses.
The inquiry into Mousa’s death is expected to release results later this year.
Both decisions by the human rights tribunal were made by the grand chamber, which is made up of 17 justices from different European countries.