Defend Soldiers’ Rights

Serious failings in the military justice system are letting down our servicemen and women. Help us make sure soldiers get the protection they deserve.
Soldiers marching
“Our troops need human rights protections just as much as everyone else – we must not let politicians scrap legislation that has proved so crucial for so many people.”
Des James

The rights of service men and women are just important as civilians

Whether serving at home or abroad, soldiers’ rights are just as important as civilians’.

Like the right to train in a safe and supportive environment and have the best available equipment to protect them whilst doing their job.

It’s the least our service men and women deserve.

The Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights protect rights like these.

Time and again they’ve helped service people, their loved ones and civilians get answers and justice when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) lets them down – from the Snatch Land Rover families to the parents of the young recruits who died at Deepcut barracks.

Leading from the front on human rights

It’s the Government’s job to keep our troops safe and their conduct clean. When they fail, people lose their jobs, their health and their lives.

But instead of learning from past mistakes, politicians are misleading the public in an attempt to opt out of their responsibilities and cover up embarrassing MoD failures.

Last year, the Government announced plans to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights in future conflicts.

This dangerous move that would mean our servicemen and women leaving their rights at home – and the people they are sent to protect losing vital safeguards too.

Ministers claim to be doing troops a favour.

But, behind the spin, this plan is an insult to the men and women who serve our country.  

It would make sure embarrassing Ministry of Defence failings are kept well and truly out of the light – while robbing civilians, our soldiers and their families of their rights.

Being the best

Our forces have not been hampered by working within human rights laws – in fact, the opposite is true.

We should be proud and confident in our forces’ ability to operate to the highest standards.

Join us in calling on the Government to protect the rights of our service personnel and respect the principles they fight for.

Liberty’s work

We represent the families of several soldiers who were failed by the Armed Forces – and we use human rights laws to find answers, achieve justice and make life better for future troops.

Over the years, we’ve made significant progress.

A new empowered and independent Service Complaints Ombudsman is in place.

  • The first ever set of statistics on sexual offences in the military justice system has been published.
  • Allegations of sexual assault, voyeurism and exposure are to be automatically referred to the service police, rather than left to a Commanding Officer to investigate –or ignore.
  • Fresh inquests were secured into the deaths of Privates Cheryl James and Sean Benton at Deepcut arracks
  • The Royal Military Police has formally apologised to Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement's family for failing to properly investigate her original allegation of rape.
  • Inquests will be held into the deaths of two soldiers, L/Cpl James Ross and Rfn Darren Mitchell. These will be Article 2 inquests, meaning the circumstances surrounding their deaths will be examined. Both died on barracks at Ballykinler within three months of each other and amid an apparent spate of self-harming episodes on the same unit.

Armed Forces Human Rights Helpline

For many years Liberty has represented soldiers and their families who have suffered a second-rate justice system and a tortuous complaints process.

We have witnessed first-hand deeply unsatisfactory treatment of both victims and accused across a range of cases and alleged offences. There are few places for service personnel to turn when cases are botched.

For that reason, Liberty has launched a dedicated legal advice phone line for serving and former members of the UK Armed Forces.

The Helpline is designed to provide some initial advice or sign-posting for those who need it. It aims to alleviate some of the complexity of the military legal system and provide free legal advice.

Available to current and former service personnel and their families ONLY, the line will be open from 10am-4pm Monday to Friday on 020 3102 9313.


Liberty briefings