The future of article 5 tribunals in the light of experiences in the Iraq war 2003
Contemporary challenges to the laws of war : essays in honour of professor Peter Rowe
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2014
Prior to the Iraq War in 2003, the laws of war had had a comfortable existence in the British Army. They did not apply in Northern Ireland and, although the laws of war applied in both the Falklands War and the first Iraq War in 1991, not only were those wars mercifully short, but sovereign territory was restored almost inlmediately once the ground war was over. In the Iraq War 2003, however, the UK found itself in belligerent occupation with the myriad of legal problems that GC III and IV present in such a situation. in the Iraq War 2003 over half of the prisoners captured by Coalition forces in the UK area of operations (AO) were in civilian clothing. It was this dramatic change on the battlefield that was to make Article 5 tribunals such a problem. Almost as soon as the prisoners were conveyed to the prisoner of war (POW) facility at Um Qsar, not only was it noticeable that a vast number were not in uniform but, predictably, a sizeable number insisted that they were not combatants at all but were civilians innocently caught up in the conflict. As the word spread that detention could be challenged, so too did the numbers seeking to challenge their detention. The United Kingdom suddenly found itself having, potentially, to conduct well in excess of 1,500 Article 5 tribunals as well as coping with all the other inmeasurably difficult tasks that the British Army was encountering as an Army of Occupation, and for which it was so ill-prepared.