Investigating Extra-territorial Human Rights Violations in Conflict: A Principled Disharmony
This paper discusses a sequence of litigation concerning attempts by Iraqi citizens to have the United Kingdom Government investigate their claims of ill-treatment and death by British soldiers during the six-year British occupation of Basra, Southern Iraq. This paper uses the litigation as a foil to examine broader issues arising from the extra-territorial application of the duty to effectively investigate rights violations under the European Convention on Human Rights, an unprecedented occurrence. Specifically, it compares the duty of effective investigation to comparative institutional responses to human rights violations in conflict. These mechanisms have developed a broader set of victim-oriented objectives in dealing with violations and this paper argues the duty of effective investigation is comparatively deficient. It then looks at the manner in which the domestic courts have applied the duty, arguing that the various factors have driven the High Court to adopt a limited model of investigation.