The Royal Military Police (RMP) has submitted an overview of all serious investigations it has covered from 2004 to 2014 to the Inquiry into Afghanistan.
This tally presents a sobering look into the realities of military engagements, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, and raises concerns about the widespread accusations of murder, attempted murder and rape.
The data reveals significant variances in the types of offences and their frequencies across different locations, offering insights into the complexities and challenges faced by the military in these conflict zones.
Murder investigations totalled 288, with Afghanistan accounting for 138 cases, indicating the intense conflict and challenges faced in the region. The 82 cases in Iraq and 68 in other locations further demonstrate the widespread nature of these serious offences. The high number of cases in Afghanistan perhaps points to the particularly volatile nature of the conflict there and underpins the need for an independent inquiry into the conflict there. In particular, UK Special Forces stand accused of a high number of extra-judicial killings there.
In terms of attempted murder, a total of 245 cases were investigated, but the distribution was markedly different. Iraq recorded a notably high number of these cases, 186, suggesting a different pattern of conflict or rules of engagement compared to the 9 cases in Afghanistan. The 50 cases in other locations also indicate the reach of such offences beyond the primary conflict zones.
Manslaughter cases, totaling 27, were relatively fewer across all locations, suggesting these incidents were either less common or less frequently identified. This category saw 6 cases in Afghanistan, 3 in Iraq, and 18 in other locations, reflecting a lower incidence of this offence in active conflict zones.
Sudden deaths and deaths during armed conflict numbered 680, with a significant 254 cases in Afghanistan and 22 in Iraq. However, the high number of 404 cases in other locations is indicative of the broader impact of military operations beyond direct combat zones.
War crimes, with 9 cases in total, were relatively low, with 2 in Afghanistan, 4 in Iraq, and 3 in other locations. This may indicate either a lower incidence of such crimes or challenges in their identification and prosecution.
Rape cases presented a striking and disturbing number, with a total of 965 cases, but only a handful in the primary conflict zones (3 in Afghanistan and 7 in Iraq). The overwhelming majority of 955 cases in other locations necessitates a deeper examination of the circumstances and environments of these incidents, as it is likely that many occurred in the UK. There have been a high number of recent cases of sexual assaults and a general atmosphere of sexual abuse in the ranks of the British military and this very high number of rape accusations suggests that the issue is systemic and under-examined.
Finally, the data included 1893 special investigations, encompassing unclassified or unspecified allegations. The significant number of these cases, particularly the 1668 in locations other than Afghanistan and Iraq, suggests a diverse range of issues encountered by the RMP.
Dr. Iain Overton of Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) comments on the report: “The findings from the RMP’s decade-long investigations are a stark reminder of the multifaceted challenges faced in military operations. The data not only reflects the realities of conflict but also underscores the imperative of accountability and thorough investigation in upholding international law and ethical standards.”
This analysis of the RMP’s report provides a crucial understanding of the scope and complexity of military police work in conflict zones. It underscores the diverse nature of serious offences in different operational theatres and highlights the ongoing efforts to ensure accountability and justice in military operations, especially from organisations such as AOAV.
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