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The Overseas Operations Bill: a licence for atrocity

Attempts to shield the armed forces from prosecution are contrary to human rights, an ethical military and basic good governance

By Conor Gearty  

Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images

The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill is what happens when the pub bore takes over British defence policy and there is no one left to prevent his cranky anger being turned into law. A rambling hostility to Johnny foreigner combines with a maudlin concern for the stresses faced by British troops on duty abroad to produce a measure which is almost as embarrassing to good governance as it is to those who care about contemporary British values.

The plan outlined in the bill is to compel prosecutors to let soldiers off the hook for crimes committed overseas…

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