Response to the Joint Committee of Human Rights call for evidence on the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill
By Bethany Shiner (Middlesex University) and Dr Tanzil Chowdhury (Queen Mary University of London)
On the 27 July 2020, the Joint Committee of Human Rights launched an inquiry into the controversial Overseas Operation (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill. The bill was introduced in the House of Commons in March 2020 and is due its second reading imminently. In short, the bill aims to limit prosecution and civil proceedings against military personnel, as well as to enable the UK government to derogate from the ECHR during combat operations. Bethany Shiner (Middlesex University) and Dr Tanzil Chowdhury (Queen Mary) have reproduced the evidence that they submitted to the inquiry. The evidence is structured as a response to the questions set by the JCHR.
As outlined in the evidence, they resist the bill on the grounds that:
- It is contrary to the UK’s human rights commitments and to its obligations under the Rome Statute.
- It contains unnecessary provisions pertaining to limitations. The law already provides robust limitations to bringing late claims or claims without merit.
- The effect of the Bill will be to entrench near-impunity of both the MoD and military personnel.
- Dr Chowdury is Lecturer in Public Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context CLSGC) at Queen Mary.