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UK Court ruling: British soldiers abroad 'not protected by human rights laws'

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Supreme Court ruling: British soldiers abroad 'not protected by human rights laws'The country's highest court has quashed a landmark ruling that British soldiers serving abroad are protected by human rights laws at all times.

Six of the nine justices who heard the case in March at the Supreme Court overturned High Court and Court of Appeal judgments over the death of Private Jason Smith in Iraq while serving with the Territorial Army.

The court was asked to rule on whether a British soldier on military service in Iraq is subject to UK jurisdiction and covered by human rights laws not only when on a British military base or hospital. James Eadie QC, representing the Ministry of Defence, had told the March hearing it would never be possible to guarantee rights under the European Convention to soldiers on duty wherever they are in the world.

"Effective and faithful application of the Convention means that not only must the State have exclusive legal and physical control over persons who benefit from it but also legal and physical control over both the area of its application and over those other persons within that area.

"The Court of Appeal's approach, if correct, would impose an obligation upon the UK to be able to ensure that a British soldier on duty in say a market in Kabul, Afghanistan, can enjoy Convention rights without hindrance, even from those Afghans over whom the UK has no legislative or practical control and where the territory is not controlled by the UK."

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