On the 15th of September 2003, an Iraqi civilian named Baha Mousa died whilst in the custody of British soldiers in Iraq following 36 hours of mistreatment and abuse. What followed was a very public reckoning for Britain’s government and armed forces. The killing ultimately triggered a Court Martial, a full public inquiry, and several high-profile legal battles reaching all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It also provoked a multitude of other allegations of the mistreatment and illegal killings of Iraqi civilians by British soldiers.
This panel event seeks to reflect upon the events of the last twenty years of British accountability, and analyse what has (or has not) been learnt since Baha Mousa’s tragic death.
Hosted by the War Crimes Research Group, the session will be Chaired by Professor Rachel Kerr, Professor of War and Society at King’s College London. She will be joined by Professor Andrew Williams, Martyn Day, Dr Samantha Newbery, and Elizabeth Brown.
Professor Andrew Williams
Professor and Head of the Law School at the University of Warwick and co-Director of the Centre for Human Rights in Practice, which he founded in 2006. Originally a practising solicitor, he specialises in human rights law and the EU, the laws of war and international criminal law. He also teaches on the Warwick Writing Programme and is editor-in-chief of Lacuna Magazine. Andrew is the author of several books including A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa (Jonathan Cape, 2012), which won the Orwell Prize in 2013 and A Passing Fury (Vintage, 2016) which was shortlisted for the 2017 Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger award for Non-fiction.
Senior Partner of Leigh Day & Co, a firm of solicitors based in the City of London, Manchester, and Leeds, specialising in representing individuals both in the UK and abroad. Martyn is part of the International Claims Team, which brings legal actions on behalf of people, in both the UK and the developing world, against multi-national corporations as well as the British Government. His cases have included successful claims on behalf of 30,000 Ivorians against Trafigura Limited, following the dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast; successfully representing the family of Baha Mousa an Iraqi tortured and murdered by British soldiers, as well as hundreds of other Iraqis, and suing Shell on behalf of some 15,000 Nigerians following two very large oil spills in 2008. He regularly writes and speaks around the world to try and encourage a greater use of the law to hold multi-nationals to account.
Dr Samantha Newbery
Reader in International Security at the University of Salford, where she teaches on intelligence studies, terrorism studies, security and counter-insurgency. She is the author of Interrogation, Intelligence and Security: Controversial British Techniques (Manchester University Press, 2015) and co-author of Why Spy? The Art of Intelligence (Hurst, 2015). She also works as an Intelligence Analyst with Optimal Risk Group.
Doctoral Researcher within the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Her thesis examines the various accountability mechanisms which followed allegations of British war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, including those which resulted from the death of Baha Mousa. She also coordinates Kings’ War Crimes Research Group, a collection of interdisciplinary scholars working on issues of international law, human rights, transitional justice, and reconciliation.