Denmark accused of violating Geneva convention during Iraq War

The Danish military stand accused of mistreating prisoners of war

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The Independent Online

Danish military officials are to launch an investigation into allegations that troops violated the Geneva Convention by mistreating prisoners during the Iraq War.

The Geneva Convention is a series of treaties designed to protect civilians, prisoners of war and soldiers considered incapable of fighting during wartime.

Members of the Danish military allegedly handed over at least 12 Iraqi POWs to local authorities in 2004. The personnel had received orders not to, amid fears they would be sentenced to death, according to a document obtained by a Freedom of Information request by the Danish daily broadsheet Politiken seen by the Local.De website.

The order was issued in light of the new Iraqi government’s decision to introduce the death penalty, and in a climate where prisoners faced torture and execution before cases were heard in court.

As international conventions forbid the execution of wartime prisoners, passing over the prisoners would therefore have violated the POWs’ human rights.

The document also revealed that the Danish military detained around 500 prisoners during the war, with 260 of those being passed to the Iraqi authorities and 55 to British forces.

However, The Danish military may have broken further Geneva Convention rules by recording only 43 of the 500 prisoners, and not being given handover receipts for those handed to the Iraqi authorities.

The Military Prosecution Service told the Ritzau news agency in a statement that it will launch an investigation to establish whether the information warrants criminal action.

Holger K. Nielsen, Denmark's former foreign minister and Socialist People’s Party MP, said the allegations left him “speechless”.


The revelations come as the British Government continues its six-year wait for the results of the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War,

Prime Minister David Cameron recently said he is “losing patience” after Sir John Chilcot said the report may not be ready for another year.