The Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFI) is a form of judicial inquiry tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding Iraqi deaths involving British forces on a case by case basis. It is chaired by the Inspector, a retired judge.
In January 2014, Sir George Newman was appointed to conduct such fatality investigations as the Ministry of Defence assigned to him from time to time with his consent. Sir George’s appointment followed the High Court’s ruling that a publicly accountable investigation into the specific and wider circumstances of death, with participation from the families of the deceased, was in certain cases required under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The IFI structure was adopted to properly satisfy the state’s investigatory obligations without the duration and expense of a statutory public inquiry. In August 2019, Baroness Hallett was appointed to succeed Sir George in this role.
The IFI is not concerned with determining civil or criminal liability. Appropriate cases are referred by the Ministry of Defence only after it has been decided that there is no realistic prospect of a criminal conviction and all criminal investigations and review processes have been completed. At the start of each case, the Inspector requests undertakings from the Attorney General and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that witnesses will not be prosecuted on the basis of any self-incriminating evidence they provide to the IFI.
At the end of each Investigation, the Inspector publishes a report in which he sets out his findings.
How we work
At all times, the Inspector will have in mind the need for effectiveness and expedition. The process followed will therefore vary from case to case to ensure these objectives are best-fulfilled, but the following provides a typical outline of how the inquiries are progressed.
evidence held by the Ministry of Defence, SPLI, and the former Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) which is provided to the Inspector upon commencement of a case, will be considered
requests may be made for the disclosure of further evidence that the Inspector considers relevant to his inquiries and that evidence will be reviewed
it is anticipated that the Inspector will need to conduct his own inquiries through interviewing witnesses and taking statements
it may be necessary to conduct public hearings and for some witnesses to give evidence in public
the Inspector will decide the extent to which documentation and any transcripts should be made publicly available on the IFI website
the Inspector will produce and publish a report of his findings, providing (1) a narrative account of the immediate circumstances in which the death occurred; and (2) an examination of the wider circumstances in which the death occurred and any lessons which should be learned
consideration will be given at all times to the state’s legal obligations towards Iraqi citizens, and the facts relating to how those obligations were discharged