It is essential that we recognise the human rights and dignity of our own soldiers who are sent overseas to fight on our behalf. Like any other person under UK jurisdiction, soldiers are entitled to protection of their human rights.
Hodge Jones & Allen has been at the forefront of advancing greater legal protection for our armed forces. Our Military Cases team is led by the award winning human rights lawyer, Jocelyn Cockburn. She won a landmark case at the Supreme Court in 2013 (the Snatch Land Rover case) which related to allegations of inadequate and unsafe equipment. The case established that British troops can rely on the protection of the Human Rights Act even when they are deployed on active service abroad.
Our reputation for holding the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to account, is matched by our track record of success in securing compensation, independent investigations, apologies or admissions of wrongdoing, as well as policy changes.
We are ranked as one of the leading law firms in the UK for human rights claims (Chambers 2014). Using our extensive experience of human rights law, we fight on behalf of the individual members of the armed forces, and their families, in order to secure their rights.
The European Convention on Human Rights provides the armed forces with a range of legal protections including:
- Right to life (Article 2)
- Duty to protect – the MoD has a duty to take reasonable steps to protect soldiers from known risks, for instance by providing soldiers with adequate equipment. We are bringing claims in relation to inadequate equipment (like the Snatch land rover claims).
- Duty to investigate – all deaths must be investigated independently (by a Coroner’s inquest) and the family has a right to be involved. Our legal challenge in relation to the death of Private Jason Smith established rights to disclosure for families in inquest proceedings.
- Freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3) – the MoD cannot treat its soldiers in an inhuman or degrading way and must properly investigate allegations of such acts. This includes sexual assaults, bullying, harassment, initiation ceremonies or failing to care for soldiers suffering from trauma. We are currently representing a serious case of a young soldier who was sexually assaulted and bullied in barracks in Germany. In a different case we represented a soldier who was given a dishonourable discharge. He had been traumatised in combat and was convicted of an assault in the civilian courts. The Ministry of Defence settled the case and changed the discharge to a medical discharge, which gave our client access to financial compensation, medical resources and avoided damage to his career.
- Right to a fair hearing (Article 6) – the MoD must treat soldiers fairly in the Courts Martial process.
- Right to private and family life (Article 8) – soldiers must be provided with sufficient support to maintain a private and family life, for example, medical information should be kept confidential.
- Freedom from discrimination (Article 14) – the MoD must protect soldiers from discrimination on the grounds of disability, for example by providing them with fair treatment following an injury. Soldiers must also be protected from discrimination on other grounds including gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.
Our Military Human Rights Solicitors are backed by nearly four decades of experience. Our legal practice and team of Military Claims Solicitors have a strong track record of achieving the best possible results. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0808 250 6017 today.