Britain to Allow Soldiers to Opt Out of Human-Rights Law

Britain’s prime minister has announced plans to allow the country’s troops to opt out of human-rights law during times of conflict. In a joint statement with Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, Theresa May vowed to protect troops from the “industry of vexatious claims that has pursued those who served in previous conflicts.” Although soldiers will be allowed to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights on the battlefield, they will still abide by the Geneva Conventions, the statement said. The move is meant to put an end to legal claims against government troops stemming from British involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fallon said the European Court of Human Rights was being abused by people engaging in a “legal witch hunt” against British soldiers. “It has caused significant distress to people who risked their lives to protect us, it has cost the taxpayer millions, and there is a real risk it will stop our armed forces doing their job,” Fallon said. The country has spent more than £100 million on investigations and compensation related to abuse claims by Iraqi civilians, and there are nearly 1,500 more pending.