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|On 15 December 2022, the Ministry of Defence announced the Government’s decision to formally establish the Independent Inquiry relating to Afghanistan (“IIRTA”) under the Inquiries Act 2005.|
The IIRTA is to investigate matters arising from the deployment of British Special Forces to Afghanistan between mid-2010 and mid-2013. Lord Justice Sir Charles Haddon-Cave was appointed to Chair the Inquiry.
The terms of reference for the IIRTA can be summarised as follows:
1. To investigate into and report on alleged unlawful activity by United Kingdom Special Forces (‘UK Special Forces’) in their conduct of deliberate detention operations (‘DDO’) in Afghanistan during the period mid-2010 to mid-2013.
2. To identify and review concerns expressed within and to the UK Special Forces and Ministry of Defence (‘MOD’) during the period mid-2010 to mid-2013 regarding the conduct of DDO in Afghanistan and the fatalities reported during such operations.
3. To consider and determine the adequacy and appropriateness of the MOD’s response to those concerns, both at the time that they were expressed or recorded and subsequently, including making any findings of fact as may be necessary for that purpose.
4. To determine whether the investigations carried out by the Royal Military Police (‘RMP’) into alleged unlawful conduct by UK Special Forces in Afghanistan in the course of DDO during the period mid-2010 to mid-2013 were timely, rigorous, comprehensive, properly conducted and effective (in particular, Operation Northmoor and Operation Cestro).
5. To determine whether any, and if so what, further investigations are necessary arising out of the above, what form such investigations should take and, so far as is appropriate, to carry out such investigations or recommend others to do so.
6. Taking account of subsequent developments and reviews, in particular (a) the Review of Sir Jon Murphy into Service Policing, (b) the Review of Shaun Lyons into the Service Justice System and (c) the Review of Sir Richard Henriques into the Service Justice System for Overseas Operations, and changes of policy, practice, process and training, consider what further lessons can be learned, make recommendations and identify such further action as may be required.
Andrew O’Connor KC, Kathryn Howarth, Émilie Pottle, Daniel Walker and Harriet Gilchrist represent the Ministry of Defence.