In April 2009, the FAC announced that it was launching an inquiry to consider:
• The case of Binyam Mohamed
• Allegations of UK complicity in torture
• Extraordinary rendition (including the possible role of Diego Garcia)
• Transfer of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan
• Allegations of abuse at the British Embassy in Iraq
• The oversight of contractors, including private security companies, employed by the FCO and UK Posts overseas
The report details British involvement in extraordinary rendition, including torture flights through Diego Garcia, British involvement in torture abroad, the transfer of prisoners to rendition and lists Saudi Arabia, Shaker Aamer’s native country, as a cause for human rights concern. The report’s conclusions and recommendations can be viewed at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmfaff/557/55703.htm
However, due to a legal rule that cases currently being heard cannot be considered, cases such as that of Binyam Mohamed were excluded, limiting the scope of the report. Earlier this year, his lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, director of Reprieve, was prevented from giving evidence about it at an FAC hearing.
The report is critical of the government’s failure to disclose information or to take relevant steps to verify points of concern over its involvement in torture and rendition, such as the failure to disclose or discover the identity of the two men rendered through Diego Garcia and those rendered to Bagram after being handed over to the Americans in Iraq. It also criticises the government’s failure to investigate or look into the human rights abuses that have been attributed to it.
Following another damning report of the British government’s poor record on human rights, and in particular torture, earlier this week by the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the court case brought by Reprieve on behalf of Mohammed Iqbal Madni, a Pakistani national they claim was rendered through Diego Garcia and on to Guantanamo Bay after having been arrested by the Americans in Indonesia, there is a growing, urgent need for an independent inquiry into Britain’s role in extraordinary rendition and torture.
Commenting on the report, Andrew Tyrie MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary
Group on Extraordinary Rendition states that, in this report:
“The Foreign Affairs Select Committee is mistaken to suggest that an independent judicial inquiry into allegations of UK complicity in torture should await a conclusion to ‘current court cases’. Neither the investigation by the police into the Binyam Mohamed case nor the other civil actions brought should stand in the way of getting to the bottom of this.”
“The Joint Committee on Human Rights, Lord Carlile, the Government’s own independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and experts in this field have all concluded that an inquiry is now essential. I agree with them. It is the only way to give the public confidence that we have got to the bottom of all of this, to draw a line under it and to move on.”
“The Report rightly criticises the Government’s lack of transparency when it comes to dealing with rendition. It is essential that the Government now accepts the Committee’s recommendations about Diego Garcia. It should belatedly ensure that comprehensive information on the renditions to Afghanistan of two detainees captured by UK Forces, and those through Diego Garcia, is made available to the UK Government and to the public.”
“The Committee’s lack of faith in US statements on the renditions to Bagram and widespread reports of abuse there make getting to the truth all the more crucial. As the Committee highlights, the basis of trust in US assurances has been undermined. It is time for the UK to take responsibility for its obligations in this area. That means ensuring that detainees transferred to other countries are properly treated, as this Report recommends. It means publishing historical guidance given to intelligence officers about the interviewing of detainees overseas. And it also means putting in place procedures to ensure that the UK cannot be involved in extraordinary renditions in the future.”
The Independent newspaper contains the following report:
In response to the mounting criticisms and evidence against them, the Foreign and Home Secretaries Alan Johnson and David Miliband wrote the following article in the Sunday Telegraph today: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/5996382/David-Miliband-and-Alan-Johnson-We-firmly-oppose-torture---but-it-is-impossible-to-eradicate-all-risk.html entitled “We firmly oppose torture – but it is impossible to eradicate all risk”. The ban on torture in international law is absolute, meaning that there can be no exceptions, something the British government has tried to argue repeatedly about the existence of over the past decade in the European courts and to the international community. Indeed, they start their article with “This is not just about legal obligations.”
The London Guantánamo Campaign urges you to take action: write to David Miliband and Alan Johnson and demand that they tell the truth about this country’s involvement in torture and rendition, if they have nothing to hide, and implement the recommendations in the FAC report and some of their own statements in their letter such as “accountability is vital to our democracy” and “our first responsibility is to uphold our law and our values.” They must investigate the clearly emerging pattern of top-level abuses and wrongdoing and ensure that it does not happen again. “National security” and “national embarrassment” cannot provide an excuse for not investigating these potential international violations and crimes at the expense of the British public they purport to protect.
Furthermore, in response to the allegations of Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record, one of the countries targeted in the report, urge them to do more to have Shaker Aamer returned to his family in the UK.
David Miliband: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Johnson: email@example.com
London Guantánamo Campaign
Sunday, 9 August 2009