BRITAIN’S armed forces are used to being under attack. Scarcely a year has passed since the second world war when they have not been engaged in operations overseas of one kind or another. They are also used to feuding with the Treasury over money. But over the past decade they have increasingly faced a foe of a different kind. Arising from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, an unprecedented number of cases have been brought against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in British courts under human-rights laws. Senior officers fear these could dent military efficiency.

So far there have been two public inquiries, more than 200 judicial reviews and more than 1,000 damages claims made against the MoD on human-rights grounds. The cost of these legal challenges so far is around £85m ($145m), over half of which has gone on inquiries into the killings of Baha Mousa and Al-Sweady by British troops in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The bill could rise substantially. Other cases are still winding their way through the courts, and lawyers say that there is a stack of other claims yet to be considered. In May the International Criminal Court, responding to a complaint by Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, announced that it was launching a preliminary examination of 60 alleged cases of unlawful killing and 170 of mistreatment of Iraqis by British troops. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog