I started my life as an electrical/electronics engineer having studied at Baghdad University and specialised in Microwave Communication at UCL. I left Iraq in 1980 for political reasons. This means that I did not live through the calamities that have befallen Iraq between 1980 and today.
I cannot but loathe anyone, especially the Iraqis, who supported the imposition of sanctions on Iraq.
When the genocidal sanctions, the like of which had never been imposed before, were imposed on Iraq in 1990 I realised that the Zionist plan for the dismantling the Arab East had started. I had a few options to challenge the disproportionate forthcoming battle. I decided to study law and try to use it as my means of battle with injustice. At a great cost, I left engineering and studied law. In 1996 I was called to the English Bar. At that time, I had accumulated no less than SEVEN degrees in four different disciplines. Yet no less than TWENTY sets of chambers refused to accept me as a tenant!
Between 1992 and 1996, I published a quarterly magazine, “The Arab Review” which was the first publication to expose the use of the Depleted Uranium shells in Iraq, the crime of aggression and the genocidal sanctions.
I cannot but loathe anyone, especially the Iraqis, who supported the imposition of sanctions on Iraq.
I tried twice in 1999 and 2002 to invite the Iraqi Government to sue the aggressors in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the genocidal sanctions, the continuous air raids that were carried out contrary to the rules of International Law, but to no avail. This is neither the time nor place to discuss the failure of the Iraqi Government to avail itself of the ICJ precedent in the case of Nicaragua v USA.
I helped a few British friends in their attempts to challenge the UK Government in the build up to the invasion of 2003. The courts used the argument that as no attack had taken place, they were not entertaining an action on hypothetical grounds.
However, as the invasion ensued, the following took place:
- On 24 March 2003, and only four days after the beginning of the invasion, I sent a letter to the AG seeking his consent to initiate criminal proceeding against PM Blair and his Cabinet for invading Iraq in breach of Part 5 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001. When the AG wrote back trying to argue the objectives of the invasion, I advanced counter legal argumentation challenging the AG’s right to sit in judgment in his case, contrary to natural justice and nemo iudex in causa sua, a maxim backed in English jurisprudence. On 26 January 2004 I lodged a Judicial Review application CO/39/2004 seeking a High Court order to quash the AG’s refusal to grant consent, arguing that the AG acted contrary to natural justice. On 12 March 2004 Tucker J refused the application and on 21 June 2004 Rose LJ rejected the renewal application. Neither judge considered or responded to my argument that the AG acted contrary to natural justice in acting in his own cause.
- On 7 April 2003, I sent a letter to the AG seeking his consent to initiate criminal proceedings against President George Bush for having breached the Geneva Convention Act 1957 as amended in 1995 and 2001. The AG wrote back arguing that George Bush enjoyed state immunity, which he did not have. An indication of the AG’s incompetence or arrogance was that he suggested that the matter of criminal investigation was up to the Metropolitan Police. But no sooner had we contacted the Metropolitan Police than they responded that the AG had denied them the authority to investigate any member of HM Government in such matters.
- On 28 January 2004 I sought the AG’s consent to initiate criminal proceedings against the UK Government arguing that it breached the Genocide Act 1969 in imposing total sanctions on Iraq. Following the AG’s refusal, I applied on 7 May 2004 for Judicial Review which was rejected by Collins J on 22 June 2004.
- On 4 February 2004 I wrote a Pre-Protocol letter to Mr. Tony Blair advising him that I was seeking Judicial Review from the UK’s actions in breaching International Law in the actions of the CPA contrary to SC Resolutions in changing Iraq’s laws. On his failure to respond I lodged application CO/2134/04 for Judicial Review which was rejected by Collins J on 10 June 2004.
The reason why none of the above actions were pursued any further is simple – money. It is a fiction to talk about the availability of justice in the Capitalist system. The UK is a good example. You have access to justice if you are rich and powerful but none if you are neither. In our case, we were intimidated into giving up because we were faced with two obstacles – the imposition of heavy cost bill at the first substantive refusal and the demand of a large security for costs to be deposited with the Court before proceeding to the appeal stage!
Between 2007 and 2015
Iraq was invaded; occupied, dismantled and left in ruin and civil war at the hands of a group of the most-evil US/UK men and women that history has ever gathered before. Fourteen years after the so-called liberation and democracy, Iraqis still have no electricity, while the Ba’ath regime managed to export electricity in 1987!
Fighting for justice for Iraq became my life mission.
I never ceased inviting Iraqi victims of the sanctions, DU, invasion and occupation who lost everything to take action, but found little response. Iraqis exposed their fragile nature of despair and a sense of indifference!
I decided to dedicate my time to research in order to create a record of the crimes and events and to lay down the foundation for legal action in the future. To that end, I authored or co-authored the following books on Iraq dealing with the subjects obvious from their titles:
- The Trial of Saddam Hussein, 2008, Clarity Press Inc. Atlanta.
- Uranium in Iraq: The Poisonous Legacy of Iraq Wars, co-authored with Joanne Baker, 2009, Vandeplas Publishing.
- Genocide in Iraq, The Case Against the UN Security Council and Member States, co-authored with Tarik Al-Ani, 2012, Clarity Press Inc. Atlanta,
- Genocide in Iraq II, The Obliteration of a Modern State, co-authored with Tarik Al-Ani, 2014, Clarity Press Inc. Atlanta.
I did not stop seeking victims willing to sue while I was researching an writing.
Current Action on Aggression
In 2015 General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat, ex-chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army, personally expressed to me his desire to sue: not to get financial damages, albeit he is entitled to it after having lost everything, but rather as his reply to the aggressor that he had no right to deny him his dignity as a human being.
It is not true, as has been circulating, that the current action against Tony Blair was initiated by the release of the Chilcot Report. The preparation for launching the action started in 2015 but were delayed for reasons that are irrelevant to this topic. Having said that, it remains true that the material in Chilcot Report, which I have read in full, turned out to be a valuable asset in our evidence.
In order to put to rest the material circulating in some quarters of the media about the action, its background and its details from people, some of whom have no access to events, I give below a brief summary of what has happened in this action.
- On 28 September 2016, I, acting as Counsel for General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat, laid Information before Westminster Magistrates seeking the issue of Summons against Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Lord Goldsmith to ‘appear before it and answer to the accusation of committing the crime of aggression in invading Iraq in 2003 contrary to the jus cogens norm established in the Nuremberg Tribunal set up by the UK and its allies post WWII’.
- The Information was accompanied by a ‘Statement of Case’ of some 100 pages of legal argument and facts starting with preliminary preparation to the invasion and occupation.
- On 24 November 2016 District Judge Snow refused to issue the Summons for the following reasons:
“1. Implied immunity as former head of state and government ministers, therefore offence not made out.
2. Allegations involve potential details being disclosed under the Official Secrets Act for which Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions consent are required.”
- On 6 December 2016 I sent the District Judge the pre-action letter asking him to reconsider his decision before I proceed to seek Judicial Review (JR) by the High Court of his refusal.
- On 29 December 2016 I was advised by the Magistrates Court that District Judge Snow was ‘not prepared to change his original decision’.
- The reason why I started the action on my own was not a question of seeking empty glory but because I found that very few people believed that there was a serious case to be pursued. That included barristers and solicitors with whom I had discussed the potential of legal action. However, now that the action is in the stage of Judicial Review (JR), it has become a serious matter to be considered by lawyers.
- Having reached the stage of JR, I realized that it was impossible for me to proceed in the legal action alone. I needed help as I was aware of what I was going to face. I contacted my old friend, the competent solicitor, Mr. Imran Khan who indicated an immediate interest and willingness to offer his personal skills and office service to the action.
- Imran and I decided that the skills of a QC was advisable in such a high profile action. Mr. Michael Mansfield QC was no less forthcoming than Imran Khan in offering his skills in the pursuit of justice; and both pro bono!
- On 22 February 2017, we filed with the High Court in London an application for permission to seek Judicial Review of the refusal of the Magistrates Court to issue Summons as requested in the Information.
- On 24 March 2017 we were served with a notice from the Attorney General (AG) indicating the following:
- That the AG was intervening in the action;
- That the three accused were being represented by the Government Legal Department; and
- That the three accused supported the AG’s intervention.
- On 11 April 2017 the AG submitted his argument to the court opposing our application for permission of JR despite not having been advised of the court’s decision to accept his intervention.
- In his submission of 11 April, the AG added nothing to our submission as he raised the opposition based on the judgment of the House of Lords in the case of Jones and others (2006) in which the HL held that ‘aggression’ despite being a crime under Customary International Law is not part of domestic criminal law because Parliament has not legislated for it to be so.
- We have accepted that such an authority exists but argued that in view of the facts and the changes in law the decision in Jones need to be revisited.
- On 25 May 2017, Ouseley J ordered that the application for permission for JR be adjourned to be heard before a Divisional Court.
- Ouseley J held that as long as we are bound by the judgment in Jones, the only issue in question is whether or not the decision in Jones should be reconsidered.
- On 5 July 2017 the Divisional Court composed of Lord Chief Justice Thomas and Ouseley J heard submissions from both sides. We argued that Jones should be reconsidered while the AG invited the Court to refuse our application and dismiss the action because the Supreme Court was unlikely to revisit the judgment in Jones.
- The Divisional Court requested further documentary evidence to be submitted within a week. We have since submitted the requested material.
- There are two possible decisions the Divisional Court could make. The Court may refuse our application and put an end to this action. Alternatively, the Court may decide that the decision in Jones need to be reconsidered in which case it would certify the question to the Supreme Court for the latter’s reconsideration.
This is the first serious active case brought before a proper court after 27 years of the first crime of imposing genocidal sanctions on Iraq. There are several other crimes that can be brought before a Court in the UK if there are Iraqi victims willing to do, and have both the courage and sense of grievance to do so. I believe that the action has awakened many Iraqis to the serious possibility and may even encourage people to be engaged in active support of these actions in more than one peaceful and legal way.
They may fabricate a case and arrest me as they did in 2003 when I was arrested soon after lodging my case against the AG on the ground that I broke the sanctions imposed on Iraq. But whatever happens I will not give up seeking justice for Iraq.
Abdul-Haq Al-Ani (Dr.)
Member of the Inner Temple
14 July 2017