Tuesday, May 19, 2009

UK military loses in court over troop protection

LONDON (AP) — Britain's second-highest court ruled Monday that soldiers at war are covered by European human rights law, a decision that could compel the military to give troops on the battlefield better equipment and medical care.

The case centered on the death of a British soldier, Pvt. Jason Smith, 32, who died of heatstroke while serving in Iraq in 2003. An inquiry found that the military failed to recognize and take appropriate steps to address the difficulty Smith had adjusting to Iraq's climate.

The court upheld an earlier ruling stating that British soldiers serving in military operations are protected by European human rights laws that enshrine the right to life. Sending soldiers into conflict with inadequate equipment could violate that right, the court said.

Smith's mother, Catherine, said she hoped the ruling would prevent similar deaths.

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