Court of Appeal upholds Soldiers’ Human Rights

The Court of Appeal has today given a ruling that many people already have tried to argue is dangerous and a bad one.  However, this is not the case and I shall explain that in this entry.

I am of course talking about the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Government’s appeal against an earlier ruling on the Human Rights Act and its extra-territorial application to the military while they are away on operations.

This case centred on the very sad death of Private Jason Smith who died of heatstroke whilst serving with the Territorial Army in Iraq in 2003.  The family of Private Smith brought a case arguing firstly that their son and every other person serving in the military is covered by the HRA and the Convention whilst away on operations and secondly that the MOD breached their son’s right to life as guaranteed by Article 2 of the convention.

This judgement, in my view, is the only one that could have been made.  Yes, going to battle is dangerous and there is a greatly increased risk of death.  However, Article 2 doesn’t guarantee life, what it does is guarantee the protection of life.  This has to apply to the military as well.  They have to do everything within their power to ensure that the risk to life is minimised, so providing the correct equipment to soldiers would come under this.  This judgement is only ensuring that what should already be happening is now happening.  We should not be satisfied that our friends, family and neighbours who serve in the military are being sent into highly dangerous situations without the adequate equipment to protect them and minimise the danger they are in.

This judgement, could be potentially costly for the MOD in compensation claims – something else people have already tried to put forward as an argument as to why this is a bad judgement.  However, the MOD should be held liable and be made to make reparations for its failure to provide adequate equipment to the military.  We could always fund the payments by cutting the expenses of MPs, thus killing two birds with one stone.  Anyways, I digress.

Human Rights are applicable to all and just because you voluntarily sign up to Her Majesty’s military should not and cannot mean that your human rights are no longer protected.