Danish supreme court rules on Iraqi torture victims
The judges overturn a lower court ruling ordering Copenhagen to compensate the 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.
Two dozen Iraqi citizens have sued Denmark, claiming they were arrested and faced “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. It ordered the defense ministry to pay compensations of 30,000 danish kroner (roughly $4,600) each 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,” the court said in a written statement.
It also insisted that the Danes had no reason to believe that the prisoners, whom they handed over to the Iraqi servicemen, could be subjected to torture.
Due to those 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 human rights group has been angered by the reversal, which it said 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.
Before the decision on Tuesday, one of the lawyers of the victims said that the case would be taken to the European Court of Human Rights if the supreme court rules in favor of the Danish government.