峇冬加里屠杀案罹难者家属上诉至英最高法院

吉隆坡 – 峇冬加里屠杀案罹难者家属及工委会成员已准备就绪,于2015年4月22日和23日前往伦敦向英最高法院大法官提出提出已过67载的控诉。
2014年3月20日,英上诉庭裁定英政府必须为发生在1948年雪兰莪州,峇冬加里境内的屠杀案负责。但英上诉庭还是基于被英最高法院的案例束缚而驳回家属要求英政府成立听证会的申请。家属不言弃,再将控诉带至英最高法院。

英最高法院将对三项复杂的法律议题进行聆审:

第一,谁必须为屠杀案负上法律责任?罹难者家属表示英政府必须为屠杀案负责因为英军是在英政府内阁的指示下在我国执行任务。然而英政府抗辩其法律责任应由雪兰莪苏丹负责或早已在马来亚独立时转移给现在的马来西亚政府。英政府企图为在英殖民时期所犯下的过错赤裸裸的逃避责任。英政府的狡辩在较早前已被英高庭和上诉庭共五位法官否决。

第二,罹难者家属也表示基于这起惨案发生在60多年前,不断有新证据涌现,英政府须遵循欧洲人权公约第二条文负起彻查可疑死亡案的责任。马来亚当时属英殖民地与保护区,因此欧洲人权公约于1953年10月23日延伸成为马来亚联邦当时的法律。

峇冬加里屠杀案有数项特殊的案情:其中包括1948和1949年严重不足的调查行动、数名英军在1970年代承认冷血屠杀村民,但英政府违背查案警官的意愿仓促的终止调查、马来西亚警方在1990年代的调查虽半途搁置,但更多证人和证据出现、以及家属自2008年准备通过司法途径提出控诉时发现更多的新证据。 由于此案将对英政府是否应须为60至70年代英本土的北爱尔兰冲突负上责任有着切实的影响,因此北爱尔兰著名人权组织已申请介入并支持家属的申诉。北爱尔兰总检察长毫无意外的支持英中央政府的抗辩。

第三,如果英政府没有义务彻查此案,家属也要求英最高法院检讨英政府拒绝彻查的决定标准。家属律师认为自17世纪起,普通法已认可彻查在扣留间的可疑死亡案的重要性,任何拒绝彻查屠杀案的决定必须在令人信服与符合“与证据相称”(proportionate)的情况作出。英高庭和上诉庭的法官认为司法审核政府的决定是以“合理”为标准,即只要政府能合理的拒绝设立听证会,法律并不会干预政府的决定。惟罹难者家属表示这已不再是一项正确的法律标准。因此,这项法律议题预料将成为司法审核案的新标准,尤其是涉及基本人权的案例。以英最高法院院长纽伯格大法官(Lord Neuberger)为首的五司将听审这起上诉。其他4名法官分别是最高法院副院长黑尔(Lady Hale),曼斯(Lord Mance),克尔(Lord Kerr)和休斯(Lord Hughes)。

罹难者家属代表林亚英表示:“我将前往英国并站在英国最资深的法官们面前。我要让他们知道我母亲在父亲被惨杀后所遭受到的困境和痛苦。母亲曾告诉我她不会在有生之年看见任何正义的曙光,她也已离开我快十年了。我今年已78岁,但我坚持在我有生之年为父亲、为峇冬加里惨案的罹难者讨回公道。”

24名在1948年英殖民时期被英军屠杀的罹难者家属于2012年5月入禀英高庭进行越洋控诉。2012年9月4日,英高庭裁决英政府不需设立听证会但认为英政府必须为屠杀案负上责任。英高庭在判词中指出:“确实有证据显示24名峇冬加里平民是被处决。”英上诉庭随后也认同起诉人在英高庭提出的10项不可争辩的事实。罹难者家属自1948年12月19日起,即屠杀案的一星期后,就锲而不懈地为至亲讨回公道。她们当时乘搭德士从峇冬加里前往吉隆坡提出控诉,而她们的儿女今天更踏上司法征途远赴英伦向英国大法官申诉。

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Batang Kali killings: Britain in the dock over 1948 massacre in Malaysia

[Sunday 19 April 2015]

from : The Independent

Victims' relatives take patrol's killing of 24 civilians to Supreme Court

Victims’ relatives take patrol’s killing of 24 civilians to Supreme Court

Britain’s failure to investigate the role of the Army in a massacre of 24 unarmed civilians in Malaysia will be challenged in a landmark Supreme Court case this week.

In the case, the culmination of a 66-year battle for justice, relatives of victims of the Batang Kali killings during the “Malayan Emergency” in 1948 will demand the British government be held to account for its repeated refusal to investigate the shootings.

The outcome has important ramifications for the UK’s duty to investigate historical incidents where British security forces have shot civilians. It could also further establish the extent to which the military is subject to human rights laws. Earlier this month, seven former defence chiefs of staff argued that British forces should be exempt from “creeping legal expansion on to the battlefield”.

Lim Ah Yin, relative of a massacre victim, in 2012 (AFP/Getty)Lim Ah Yin, relative of a massacre victim, in 2012 (AFP/Getty)

In the incident, dubbed Britain’s My Lai – after the 1968 Vietnam War atrocity when US soldiers murdered hundreds of unarmed civilians – a 14-man Scots Guards patrol entered the Batang Kali rubber plantation in Selangor state, a British protectorate. The soldiers, with a guide and two colonial police officers, rounded up more than 50 villagers, separated men from women and children, detained them in huts overnight, and began interrogating both groups about communist guerrillas operating locally. Interrogations included simulated executions, witnesses claimed.

The next morning the women and children were driven a short distance away, by lorry. The men’s hut was then unlocked and within minutes all 23 of the men were shot dead after allegedly attempting a mass breakout. One man had been shot the previous evening. The village was then burnt to the ground.

British authorities rejected subsequent demands for an inquiry, labelling the victims “bandits” and accepting the escape explanation.

In 1969, a member of the patrol told a newspaper the troops deliberately executed the villagers on the platoon commander’s orders. A further three soldiers admitted on oath to a subsequent Scotland Yard investigation that they executed the villagers under orders. Two said the Army instructed them to give the false explanation that the men had tried to escape.

Detectives were poised to interview more Malaysian witnesses when the inquiry was closed in 1970. The investigating officer concluded: “At the outset this was politically flavoured.” The decision to terminate mid-investigation, he wrote, “was due to a political change in view when the new Conservative government came to office.” A 1993, a Malaysia Police investigation was closed after “virtually no assistance from UK authorities”. Relatives twice petitioned the Queen for an apology, without response, before launching their legal-inquiry battle.

Civilians lie dead in Batang Kali, in 1948

Civilians lie dead in Batang Kali, in 1948

Lawyers for the British government  argued that it was not liable for the deaths, which occurred before Britain signed the Human Rights Convention, and that the troops were under Selangor, not UK, command.

Surviving platoon members are not expected to face prosecution.

John Halford, of Bindmans solicitors, representing victims’ relatives, said: “The unarmed Chinese labourers slaughtered were British subjects living in what was then a British Protected State. Their killers were British soldiers, deployed by the British Cabinet to protect British interests. Despite all of this, the Government will argue the law demands no accountability whatsoever because the killings are somehow not Britain’s responsibility and happened a long time ago. We trust the Supreme Court to see through this sophistry… [and] not permit an atrocity committed by our troops to be condoned and covered up in our name.”

Last year the Appeal Court rejected the relatives’ legal arguments but, unusually, invited them to appeal to the Supreme Court to enable Britain’s highest court to bring UK law into line with more recent European Human Rights Court judgments. The relatives’ arguments would “probably succeed” in Strasbourg, the judges noted.

Tham Yong was an eyewitness to the massacre (AFP)

Tham Yong was an eyewitness to the massacre (AFP)

The case’s implications are such that Northern Ireland’s Attorney General, John Larkin QC, has intervened. If the Supreme Court rules the Government does have a duty to carry out fresh inquiries into such deaths, it is certain to spark calls for fresh investigations into a series of contentious killings in Northern Ireland. Yasmine Ahmed, of Rights Watch (UK), accused him of trying to close the door to public inquiries saying: “This case’s outcome will have considerable implications in Northern Ireland where many of the deaths that occurred during ‘The Troubles’ happened before the Human Rights Act in 1998. The UK has a legal obligation to investigate the unlawful killing of its nationals. It is vital there is a domestic law mechanism allowing for the enforcement of this and the accountability of actions of the state.”