What a government with accountability would do is determine what its soldiers may have done in war and investigate. Not stonewall or ignore or deny. “Our boys”, from Britain, America and Australia, have committed countless abuses in the last ten years in the “war on terror”:
The UN has called on Barack Obama to order a full investigation of US forces’ involvement in human rights abuses in Iraq after a massive leak of military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
The call, by the UN’s chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, came as Phil Shiner, human rights specialist at Public Interest Lawyers in the UK, warned that some of the deaths documented in the Iraq war logs could have involved British forces and would be pursued through the UK courts. He demanded a public inquiry into allegations that British troops were responsible for civilian deaths during the conflict.
The Guardian has analysed the 400,000 documents, the biggest leak in US military history, and found 15,000 previously unreported civilian deaths. The logs show how US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and generally unpunished.
Nowak said that if the files released through WikiLeaks pointed to clear violations of the UN Convention Against Torture the Obama administration had an obligation to investigate them.
The logs paint a disturbing picture of the relationship between US and Iraqi forces. Nowak said that UN human rights agreements obliged states to criminalise every form of torture, whether directly or indirectly, and to investigate any allegations of abuse.
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Nowak, who has spent years investigating allegations of US participation in extraordinary rendition and the abuse of detainees held by coalition forces, said the Obama administration had a legal and moral obligation to fully investigate credible claims of US forces’ complicity in torture.
A failure to investigate, Nowak suggested, would be a failure of the Obama government to recognise its obligations under international law. He said the principle of “non-refoulement” prohibited states from transferring detainees to other countries that could pose a risk to their personal safety.