The UK Supreme Court will reportedly investigate the circumstances of the death of a British soldier killed in Iraq to determine soldiers' 'right to life' under article two of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Private Phillip Hewett of the Staffordshire Regiment was killed by a roadside bomb that hit the armoured 'Snatch' Land Rover that he was travelling in.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that the relatives of soldiers killed in action can pursue claims against the UK Government for negligence, but cannot sue for compensation under the Human Rights Act 1998.
The families' argument is that the battlefield is within the reach of the law, and further that soldiers have a right to life under the Human Rights Act. Court of Appeal judges refused this argument; however, lawyers representing the families will now take the case on appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal decision has angered the relatives of dead soldiers who believe that the ruling effectively means soldiers 'don't matter' in the same way as other citizens.
"It is just so dismissive. It 'doesn't matter'. They are Action Men. If you break them, just bury them. But they are not just Action Men. People need to make a stand," said Private Hewett's mother, Sue Smith, outside the Court.
At the moment soldiers are covered by human rights legislation at all times except when in the 'theatre of war', which effectively means they cease to be covered as soon as they leave the base.
It is thought that the soldiers' families may have a strong case, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Iraqi citizens killed in Iraq are covered by human rights law because the UK Army was the occupying force at the time.
Solicitors representing Sue Smith believe that the current legal situation is anomalous, as the presence of soldiers in a country confers human rights protection on that country's citizens but not on the soldiers themselves.
"I find it disgusting that we employ soldiers to defend our country and send them out without any human rights, yet we criticise other countries for not honouring their human rights," said Ms Smith.
Court to consider whether soldiers have 'right to life' (The Telegraph)