10 December, 2006

No war in Iraq or Afghanistan, just crime.

So says the government. First a note of explanation: in the UK there exists a Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which exists to make payments to the victims of crime.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the government has decided that the British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are not currently at war. Consequently, any casualties are victims of crime rather than of war and so will qualify for payments from the Armed Forces' Criminal Injury Compensation (overseas) scheme, the Ministry of Defence's version of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Payments will be made on a "sliding scale" of about £1,000, for a small facial scar, up to a maximum of £500,000, for the loss of a limb. The ruling was agreed, it is understood, after Government lawyers raised fears that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) could be subject to a legal challenge by troops claiming they were victims of crime because they were wounded in Iraq after the end of "at war" hostilities in May 2003.
Potentially good news for those affected, but there is a caveat or two which will keep the lawyers busy:
It is thought the only circumstances where troops injured in Iraq and Afghanistan would not be eligible for criminal compensation is when they were involved in pre-arranged, offensive operations directly targeting insurgents....

...Defences sources have admitted that the awarding of compensation will be "complex and difficult", with evidence being presented to the panel by the serviceman's commanding officer.Under the revised MoD compensation scheme, all wounded troops will be given legal advice from government lawyers as to whether their injury was as a result of a crime or of war. Those deemed to have been injured through "criminal acts" will be able to lodge compensation claims that will be assessed by a panel comprising a senior military officer, civil servants and a civilian.

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