Mordaunt grants legal protection to veterans facing historic charges, but Northern Ireland will not be covered


The Defense Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, is addressing requests to extend the strengthened legal protections to British troops who face investigations into alleged historical crimes to veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict.

The new law would protect force personnel from taking action on the battlefield abroad after 10 years, except in "exceptional circumstances," Mordaunt announced.

While the move was welcomed by parliamentarians pressing for an end to the historical investigations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was concern that it did not cover the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

When asked why the protections would not be extended to the soldiers who fought in the Troubles, Ms Mordaunt replied: "I think it should relate to Northern Ireland."

Addressing members of the Royal United Services Institute, he added: "The problem is that we have failed on the whole issue of the" law "because we were waiting for other things to happen.

"This will not be resolved from one day to the other, it is my priority".

He said he feared that the government ran the risk of repeating the mistakes of the Irish Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) with the Troubles veterans.

He said he made a deal with Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley, who said defense concerns would be formally considered part of the Stormont House settlement process.

"It is my personal priority that we have solved this problem and stop this chilling effect that claims veterans who really deserve our care," he said.

Among those currently facing a trial is a former soldier, known as Soldier F, who was charged with the murder of two people during Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.

War veteran Simon Weston, who suffered severe burns while serving in the Falklands, told ITV News that he believes criminals from Northern Ireland receive treatments other than soldiers.

He said: "An amnesty is offered to the people who deliberately went out and committed crimes, yet our soldiers who might have made mistakes will not be absolved of this."

The president of the Defense Committee of the Municipalities, conservative MP Julian Lewis, welcomed the moves to prevent soldiers from being "sentenced to death".

He suggested a process of "resumption of the truth" in South African style for Northern Ireland, where the deaths were investigated but there were no criminal proceedings to follow.

"Given that that kind of immunity has actually already been granted to so many people on the terrorist side of that bitter and terrible conflict, what is good enough for Nelson Mandela should be good enough for us and we should draw a line this way" told the Press Association.

The former head of the army, General Lord Dannatt, said that peers will try to change the legislation to extend it to Northern Ireland when it comes to the House of Lords.

"What we can't afford to move forward is the presumption that those deaths that involved the military were wrong," he told the BBC's Radio 4 program today.

"The soldiers did their duty, they got up in the morning, sometimes they were attacked. They came back fired.

"They didn't decide to kill people. The terrorists started killing people every morning and they did it successfully. C & # 39; is a huge distinction to track."

The proposals, which will be the subject of a public consultation, include measures aimed at introducing a legal presumption against the prosecution of current or previous personnel for alleged crimes committed during a mission abroad over 10 years ago.

It will establish that such judicial proceedings are not of public interest unless there are "exceptional circumstances", as if convincing new evidence emerges.

Ms Mordaunt, who should reveal the new measures within a few days, said: "We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to our armed forces who have put their lives in danger to protect our freedom and security.

"It is time for us to change the system and provide the right legal protections to ensure that the decisions taken by our service personnel on the battlefield do not lead to repeated or unjust investigations along the line."

The Secretary of Defense is also expected to reaffirm his commitment to derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) before the UK undertakes significant military operations.

In 2016 Theresa May announced that the government will adopt the presumption that it will make use of the right to suspend aspects of the ECHR in times of war.

Ms. May said at the time that the move should put an end to "an industry of vexatious claims" that saw the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan persecuted through the courts for alleged ill-treatment of fighters and prisoners over a decade after the alleged events.

. (tagToTranslate) Mordaunt to provide legal protection for veterans facing historical charges, but Northern Ireland has not won. (t) news (t) video (t) latest (t) ITV News


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