Tuesday 24 November 2009

Human Rights Watch call for torture collusion inquiry

David Miliband has robustly challenged claims that the UK goverment has been "complicit in torture", stating this was a 'misleading' and 'dangerous shorthand', when speaking at the Fabian fringe in Brighton this Autumn.

But the government is coming under increasing pressure over what the UK knew about specific cases of torture and coercive interrogation, conducted (in different cases) by the intelligence agencies of both Pakistan and the United States.

Human Rights Watch today releases a report detailing the cases of five British citizens who were tortured in Pakistan between 2004 and 2007, and calls for an independent judicial inquiry.

The human rights group report that they found no evidence of UK officials directly participating in torture, for which the Pakistani authorities were responsible, but argue that UK complicity is clear. Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch said:

"British intelligence and law enforcement colluded with and turned a blind eye to the use of torture on terrorism suspects in Pakistan. British officials knew that Pakistani intelligence agencies routinely used torture, were aware of specific cases and did not intervene"

Norman Geras, among the principal authors of the pro-liberal intervention Euston Manifesto, concludes:

HRW's finding of British complicity in torture is therefore a matter for serious concern and its demand for an independent public inquiry fully justified. Crucial in this regard is the finding that:

In... five cases, British officials and agents first colluded with illegal detention by the Pakistan authorities and then took the collusion further by repeatedly interviewing or passing questions to the detainees between or during torture sessions.


Generalized statements by government ministers on this matter do not answer to the gravity of the findings in HRW's report. An inquiry is called for.

The government is also currently appealing against the release of information about the US coercive interrogation techniques which were used in the case of Binyamin Mohammed, though the FCO has been very much struggling to convince the judges that its national security objections stand up.

Clive Stafford-Smith, who has seen the classified evidence, sets out as much of the background as is possible at present, while the appeal proceeds.

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