And with Brown reneging on publication of SIS guidelines there is every sign this will continue, I would also add I have little hope any other party would not do likewise, a key aspect is the intel relationship with the US and clearly no accountability for torture is coming from that direction. The Amnesty Report does not cover the domestic repressions that the last decade has seen, which go hand in hand with the war-on-terror authoritarian paradise that is now our reality-
Amnesty International believes that there is credible evidence that the UK has been involved in grave human rights violations perpetrated against people held overseas since the attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001 to warrant the establishment of an independent, impartial and thorough inquiry. Credible allegations implicate the UK in torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detentions and renditions. Over the years, Amnesty International1 and others have documented cases of the UK’s involvement in these abuses, including:
- UK personnel were present at and participated in interrogations of detainees held unlawfully overseas in circumstances in which the UK knew or ought to have known that the detainees concerned had been or were at risk of being tortured and/or whose detention was unlawful;
- UK personnel provided information (e.g. telegrams sent by UK intelligence personnel to intelligence services of other countries) that led the USA and other countries to apprehend and detain individuals when the UK knew or ought to have known that these people would be at risk of torture and/or unlawful detention;
- The UK was involved in the US-led programme of renditions and secret detentions through, for example, the use of UK territory (e.g. Diego Garcia) and/or airspace;
- UK personnel forwarded questions to be put to individuals detained by other countries in circumstances in which the UK knew or ought to have known that the detainees concerned had been or were at risk of being tortured and/or whose detention was unlawful; and
- The UK systematically received information extracted from people detained overseas in circumstances in which it knew or ought to have known that the detainees concerned were being, had been or would be tortured and/or whose detention was unlawful.
- Amnesty International believes that the UK’s role in the abusive practices described above cannot be attributed exclusively to the actions or omissions of rogue UK agents. Policies and practices implemented in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 led directly to the UK becoming involved in grave violations of human rights committed against people held overseas. These policies and practices included:
- The UK government’s failure to respond adequately to the serious violations of international humanitarian law documented in the February 2004 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);2
- The sending of UK intelligence and police personnel abroad to conduct or assist the interrogations of people held by other states in circumstances where the UK knew or ought to have known that both detention and questioning were not only unlawful, but may also have amounted to serious crimes under UK and international law, including complicity in torture on the part of the UK and possible criminal conduct on the part of individual UK agents;
- The refusal, for a substantial period of time, to oppose the unlawful detention of hundreds of people at the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the concomitant refusal to make adequate representations to the USA and other countries, on behalf of UK nationals and former UK residents who were held unlawfully at various locations around the world, including Guantánamo Bay;
- The sending of UK intelligence personnel to Guantánamo Bay to interrogate UK nationals and UK residents;
- The concealment until June 2004 of the fact that a number of the detainees questioned by UK intelligence personnel had in fact complained about their treatment in detention at the hands of US authorities at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere (e.g. Afghanistan), and the subsequent refusal of the UK to provide any further detail about these complaints, including on how, if at all, they had been followed up in a manner consistent with the UK’s human rights obligations under international law;
- The authorizations issued by the UK government to the security and intelligence agencies under section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994,3which provides a waiver of liability to intelligence service personnel for illegal acts, including criminal offences, committed abroad in certain circumstances, and the concomitant concealment — for “security reasons” — of the number of times and the circumstances in which these authorizations have been granted since 11 September 2001;
- The incorrect assertion that there were only very limited circumstances in which domestic and international human rights law would apply to UK operations abroad, including in Afghanistan and Iraq;
- The failure to disclose information in the UK government’s possession that supported claims on behalf of former and current detainees that they had been tortured or otherwise ill- treated and that their confessions had been extracted under torture or other ill-treatment;
- The wilful or grossly negligent failure to maintain adequate records — or any records at all — with respect to the use of Diego Garcia by the USA for unlawful renditions, and the activities of the intelligence agencies; and
- The strenuous defence of the use, in domestic legal proceedings, of information extracted under torture from people held overseas by other countries.
The UK government’s response to these charges has primarily been one of denial and of hiding behind a wall of secrecy. The Chiefs of the UK’s Secret Services (MI5 and MI6), the Home and Foreign Secretaries, the Prime Minister and the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee have in the past denied the UK’s involvement in the torture of people held overseas. However, such denials fly in the face of credible evidence to the contrary that has continued to mount in recent years.