Representatives of 24 people killed by British troops in the British colony of Malaya in 1948 this week bring a case to the Court of the Appeal calling for further investigation into the killings.

Families of the Batang Kali villagers brought the case to the Divisional Court in April 2012. The court found that despite the passage of time those killed at Batang Kali were ‘24 civilians’ who ‘did not wear uniforms, had no weapons, and were a range of ages’.

But the court found a conflict between existing House of Lords case law on the effects of the Human Rights Act and recent European Court of Human Rights case law as to whether the event should be subject to investigation.

The Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office are expected to argue in the Court of Appeal there is no investigatory duty in relation to events pre-dating the October 2000 Human Rights Act.

John Halford (pictured), solicitor at human rights firm Bindmans, advising the Batang Kali families, said the outcome of the appeal will have implications for other ‘highly questionable colonial interventions’.

He said: ‘The appeal arises out of a legal challenge to the failure to investigate the Batang Kali massacre in Malaya in December 1948. In 1970 six of the soldiers involved confessed their actions amounted to murder and further new evidence has continued to emerge ever since. 

‘Yet two police investigations were aborted before being completed despite the protests of the investigating officers and, to this day, the atrocity has been the subject of no government apology and no acknowledgment of wrongdoing.’

The appeal will be heard by by Maurice Kay, the Court of Appeal’s deputy president, and Lord Justice Fulford. 

The Batang Kali families are represented by Michael Fordham QC, from Blackstone Chambers and Danny Friedman QC and Professor Zac Douglas from Matrix Chambers.