Friday, July 02, 2010

Troops 'have no rights on a battlefield'

By Simon Usborne

Thursday, 1 July 2010

British troops are not protected by human rights laws on the battlefield, the country's highest court has ruled.

The family of Private Jason Smith, who died of a heart attack after being exposed to extreme heat while serving with the Territorial Army in Iraq, had argued that troops should be given human rights protection while overseas.

But the Supreme Court has now quashed previous rulings by the High Court and Court of Appeal that legislation should apply to soldiers at all times.

Pte Smith was deployed in Iraq in June 2003 and repeatedly told medical staff the heat was making him unwell. He was later found lying face down after suffering cardiac arrest.

Jocelyn Cockburn, a lawyer representing Pte Smith's mother, Catherine, called the decision "shocking", adding: "It is artificial to assert that rights can be protected on-base but not off-base."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, said: "This outcome is not about denying rights to our people, it is about ensuring we have a clear... set of rules."

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