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Danish supreme court rules on Iraqi torture victims — Analysis

A lower court decision was overturned by the judges and Copenhagen is ordered to compensate civilians

Denmark’s supreme court has overturned a lower court ruling that had ordered the country to compensate 18 civilians tortured during a joint mission by Iraqi and Danish troops during the Iraq war.

Denmark was sued by 22 Iraqi citizens who claimed they were held and facing trial. “torture and inhumane treatment” during operation ‘Green Desert’ near Iraq’s main port city of Basra in 2004.

In 2018, an appeals court ruled that although the Danish troops hadn’t taken part in torture, they were responsible for failing to prevent the abuse perpetrated by their Iraqi counterparts. The court ordered that the defense ministry pay damages of approximately 30,000 Danish kroner (4,600 USD) to 18 victims.

However, Denmark’s supreme court failed to uphold that decision on Tuesday, arguing that the country’s soldiers weren’t responsible for the actions of the Iraqi military.

“The Danish forces had no command over the Iraqi military and police forces, that the operation was Iraqi-led, and that the Danish forces’ participation in and conduct of the operation was in accordance with the mandate they were sent under,”In a written statement, the court stated.

The Danes were also unable to imagine that torture could occur to prisoners they had handed to the Iraqi soldiers.

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Because of these reasons, “the defense ministry is not liable for assaults committed by Iraqi special forces” and shouldn’t be paying compensations to the victims, the supreme court concluded.

Amnesty International, a human rights organization, was angered at the reverse. It claimed that it happened through “denials, rejections on video material, and fines to Anders Kærgaard, who leaked the video footage, and claims that the entire case was obsolete.”

Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, the chief of politics and society at the group’s Danish branch, insisted that the Iraqis deserve reparations.

One of the victim’s lawyers stated that they would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, if the court of supreme jurisdiction rules against the Danish government.

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