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Paul Rogers represents the prosecution in Landmark Supreme Court judgment on torture with worldwide implications


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The Supreme Court today handed down judgment in the case of R v TRA in which it explained the scope of who a person acting in an official capacity will be for the international crime of torture under the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

In accepting the prosecution’s arguments the Court, by 4-1 majority, made clear for the first time that this could extend to the activities of insurrectional forces (eg rebel armed groups)  where those acting in an official capacity do so on behalf of an entity exercising governmental control over a civilian population in a territory in which it exercises de facto control. In particular it found there was no justification for restricting the conduct to such done on behalf of the government of the State concerned. Instead they held that the words “acting in an official capacity” included persons acting on behalf of a de facto authority which seeks to overthrow the government of the State. In establishing the exercise of de facto governmental functions, they held that a distinction must be made between purely military activity not involving any governmental function. The exercise of governmental function is a core requirement, however insurrectional forces engaged in fighting the forces of central government of a State may exercise sufficient governmental authority over territory and persons under their control for acts done on their behalf to be official acts for this purpose.

The case is concerned with acts of torture, including repeated rape, alleged to have been carried out by persons acting on behalf of the national Patriotic Front of Liberia during the first Liberian Civil War in West Africa in 1990 when it was attempting to overthrow the government of Samuel Doe the then President of Liberia.

Paul Rogers has a proven track record in handling complex investigations, trials and appeals as lead counsel, at both the domestic and international level. Paul has significant experience in the international field as a senior prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (UNICTY). Should you wish to instruct Paul, please contact Nick Levett (+44 (0)20 7427 4908) or Adam Macdonald (+44 (0)20 7427 4906).


Barristers: Paul Rogers
Categories: News