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Armed Forces Bill report published

17 May 2011

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today publishes its report on the Armed Forces Bill, which raises several significant human rights issues.

The Committee calls on the Government to remove the proposal which would permit the judge advocate to authorise multiple search and entry of all residential premises by service police: this could be a disproportionate interference with the right to respect for people's homes.

The Committee also calls for clarification of the arrangements for the discharge of under-18s from the armed forces to bring the service commitment into line with that made by recruits of other ages. The Committee believes that the Bill provides a good opportunity to consider the issue of under-18s serving in the Armed Forces, and the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on UK compliance with the UN Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict.

Other human rights issues raised by the report relate to Sexual Offences Prevention Orders; Service Complaints Panels; issues around the treatment of detainees by Armed Forces personnel, including independence of service police and effectiveness of investigators. Finally, the Committee calls on the Government to remove the Armed Forces exemption from the Equalities Act 2010.

Chair of the Committee Dr Hywel Francis MP said:

"This Bill should be amended to ensure that the judge advocate does not have the power to authorise the multiple search of all premises by service police. Also, the Government should remove the exemption of the Armed Forces from the Equalities Act 2010. We believe that this Bill provides an excellent opportunity for Parliament to debate the issue of under-18s in the Armed Forces, and we continue to have some concerns over the arrangements for the discharge of under-18s and the length of their minimum period of service."