THE UK GOVERNMENT is facing calls for an urgent investigation into evidence gathered by BBC Panorama that points to the systematic killing of unarmed civilians by the SAS in Afghanistan in 2010-11.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), Britain’s leading pacifist network, called for the armed forces to lose the power to police themselves. They insisted that an investigation must be carried out by people outside the military if it is not to be compromised.

Panorama reports that General Mark Carleton-Smith, then head of UK special forces, withheld evidence from a murder investigation into one of the killings in 2013. Carleton-Smith later became Chief of the General Staff (head of the army), a position he held until last month (June 2022). The orogramme also quotes Military Police personnel who say they were obstructed by the military in their efforts to gather evidence.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union, said: “The credible body of evidence gathered by Panorama over four years of research cannot be easily dismissed. This cannot be written off as a case of a few ‘rotten apples’. It involves evidence that people at the highest levels of the military deliberately blocked investigations.

“How much longer must we wait before military leaders are held to account? Whether it involves the abuse of young recruits or the actions of UK forces overseas, generals such as Mark Carleton-Smith are rarely questioned and are allowed to evade responsibility. Instead, we are all encouraged to cheer the armed forces and put them on a pedestal.

“The armed forces are the only institutions in the UK who are permitted to run their own police forces and conduct their own criminal trials, separate from civilian courts. This urgently needs to change to ensure that armed forces are not above the law. In a democracy all people must be subject to the same law and the same justice system.”

* More information on Panorama’s research here and here.

* Source: Peace Pledge Union