United Kingdom: Court rejects complaint on 1948 Batang Kali killings by British soldiers

A human rights complaint concerning the 1948 Batang Kali killings by British soldiers has been declared inadmissible by Strasbourg judges.

In its decision in the case of Chong and Others v. the United Kingdom (application no. 29753/16), the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible.

The decision is final.

The case concerned the killing of 24 men in December 1948 by British soldiers in the village of Batang Kali in Selangor, which is now a state of Malaysia but at the time was part of the British Empire.

The official account was that the 24 men, believed to be sympathisers in a communist insurgency, had been killed when trying to escape, while surviving villagers and the applicants in this case, who are relatives of the deceased, alleged that they had been murdered in cold blood.

The applicants complained before the European Court that there had never been a full and independent public inquiry into the killings.

The court found that the applicants’ complaint was not within its jurisdiction (ratione temporis) because the deaths had occurred more than ten years before the United Kingdom had given individual applicants the right to apply directly to the Court. In any case, new evidence had come to light as early as 1970, when the soldiers had admitted that they had been ordered to carry out the massacre, so the applicants had lodged their application long after the Convention time-limit.


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