Torture & Its Friends

Britain must continue to work with international intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorism even if they are not commited to UK standards on the abuse or torture of detainees, the Foreign Office has warned.

In its annual report on human rights around the world published last night, the Foreign Office said the UK could not afford the “luxury” of co-operating only with agencies in countries which do not share UK standards on human rights.

It said British agencies endeavoured to minimise the risk that detainees held overseas were mistreated when they were involved in operations, but it was not always possible to “reduce the risk to zero”.

It follows a number of high-profile court cases – most notably by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed – that claimed MI5 officers were complicit in the mistreatment of detainees by foreign agents, including those of the US and Pakistan.

While the UK had put in place measures to ensure detainees held in its custody were not subjected to torture or abuse, it could not always have the same level of assurance when they were held abroad, the report said.

‘UK standards on human rights’ oh stop it you’re killing me, as detainees often scream…

Consistent On Torture

For a government that uses and covers up torture it is only to be expected they also enable it around the world and despises its survivors. We cannot change this until the situation is honestly admitted, we are still far from that thanks to govt. & media efforts to hide and excuse human rights abuse based in racism, profit and…vanity. The essential role of a nationalist or tribal vanity that somehow we are exceptional or better than others makes the true picture of our actions both too unsettling for many to bear and also inspires denial rather than engagement.

Torture survivors seeking sanctuary in Britain are being wrongly held in government detention centres, despite independent medical evidence supporting claims of brutal violence against them in their home countries.

According to Home Office guidelines, in cases where there is evidence that a person seeking asylum has been tortured they should be detained only in “exceptional circumstances”. But medical charities that carry out hundreds of independent assessments of torture survivors every year have accused the government of routinely ignoring their reports, with victims held in detention centres until their asylum claims are heard – and, in almost every case, rejected.

Sonya Sceats, a spokeswoman for one charity that carries out medical assessments for the government, told the Observer: “It’s very clear there is a systemic and increasing problem here. The corollary of their dismissal of independent medical evidence is that the protection [asylum] claim is invariably rejected and this means a survivor of torture is at risk of being returned to further torture or at risk of detention.”

Govt. Can’t Stop Covering Up Torture

It’s interesting this case also involves Moazzam Begg the focus of the recent campaign against Amnesty by Decent types.

The government will attempt today to have a case about torture heard entirely behind closed doors in a move that some lawyers say would extend secrecy to a new area of hearings, overriding ancient principles of English law. This morning a case will come before three appeal judges in London in which seven men are seeking damages against the government for mistreatment during what they say was their “extraordinary rendition” and torture facilitated by the British security services. The men include former Guantánamo Bay detainees Binyam Mohamed and Moazzam Begg. But the government is seeking to have the case held in secret, less than two weeks after the court of appeal ruled that seven paragraphs of secret evidence in the case of Mohamed should be made public.

Lawyers for the men say that if successful, the government’s application would extend closed proceedings into findings of fact in the civil courts for the first time.

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ISC As Useful As The IPCC

The senior Labour MP who led the revolt against Tony Blair’s 90-day detention bill yesterday intensified the political storm over Britain’s alleged complicity in torture by attacking the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) for failing in its remit as overseer of the security services. The ISC, David Winnick said, had become a “mouthpiece for MI5”.

“The impression given is that this committee, which reports directly to the prime minister, is in danger of being open to the accusation that it has gone native,” said Winnick.

His attacks came after Kim Howells, the ISC’s chairman, defended MI5’s director general, Jonathan Evans, in the row over allegations that British security officers colluded in torture. Howells denied that the ISC had been misled by the security service and said the committee had seen no evidence that MI5 had been involved in torture.

Any claim to the contrary, said Howells on Friday in a joint statement with the senior Tory on the ISC, Michael Mates, was “calumny and a slur and it should not be made”.

Evans publicly contested the allegations against his officers in an article in Friday’s Daily Telegraph. “We did not practise mistreatment or torture and do not do so now, nor do we collude in torture or encourage others to do so on our behalf,” he stated.

Winnick, a long-standing member of the home affairs select committee, said the ISC needed to start holding sessions in public to reverse its current “unhappy” lack of accountability. He accused it of closing ranks with the intelligence services at the very time when scrutiny should be at its most intense.

‘in danger’ Bless.

PS. And for Howells to say that, well he does like to hang with death squads.

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White House Maintain Their Side Of The Cover Up

A spokesman for President Barack Obama acknowledged that the UK remained a key partner in the fight against terrorism. He added: “We shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations.

“As we warned, the court’s judgment will complicate the confidentiality of our intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK, and it will have to factor into our decision-making going forward.”

In a defeat for the British government, the Court of Appeal on Wednesday ruled that a seven paragraph account of the alleged torture of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, in Pakistan in 2002 should be published.

David Miliband, foreign secretary, opposed publication of the information, because he said it would make it harder for the US intelligence agencies to work with their British counterparts. Mr Miliband told MPs that he had spoken to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the judgment. “It has been followed carefully at the highest levels in the US system with a great deal of concern,” he said. “We will work carefully with the US in the weeks ahead to discuss the judgment and its implications.”

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Binyam Mohamed Torture Cover Up Defeated

This is great news, seemingly the govt tried up until the last minute to fiddle the courts -Legal principle established in 1637 banned secret talks between lawyers and courts. It was broken by the government–  and more is to come, and -a lawyer’s letter detailing how the Master of the Rolls condemned MI5 for withholding intelligence from the foreign secretary and the courts over complicity in torture

Amnesty International has today welcomed the disclosure of information detailing the torture of UK resident Binyam Mohamed while in US custody.

The Court of Appeal this morning ordered that seven previously redacted paragraphs concerning Binyam Mohamed’s detention by the US be made public despite the UK government’s opposition to this move.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This disclosure of information is welcome. Instead of blocking the release of information that may implicate UK officials in acts of torture, the UK authorities should be trying to get to the bottom of this affair.

“Today represents another step toward accountability and transparency but it shouldn’t be left to individual court cases and prolonged litigation resisted at each stage by the UK government to establish the nature of the UK’s possible role in human rights abuses during the ‘war on terror’.

“In March last year it was announced that the police would begin an investigation into the allegations of possible criminal wrongdoing by agents of the intelligence services, and the outcome of the investigation is still awaited.

“The fact that Binyam Mohamed was tortured triggers the UK’s human rights obligation, under domestic and international law, to investigate allegations of UK complicity in his abuse.

“We renew our call for an in independent and wide-ranging inquiry into all aspects of the UK’s alleged involvement in human rights abuses like rendition, secret detention and torture.”

PS. The redacted passages-

The following is quoted from the first judgment of the Divisional Court in the Binyam Mohamed case on 21 August 2008. We have alerted the Court to a typographic error.

“The following seven paragraphs have been redacted
[It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities]”

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Our Dirty War

British army ‘waterboarded’ suspects in 70s. This is why, when sometimes someone holds up Northern Ireland as an example of fighting terrorism not in the war-on-terror way, I cringe, the state murders, the torture, the framings, the hunger strikes, the racism. It’s really not a lesson in best practice, unless the lesson is oppressing people, hmmm maybe I misunderstood , maybe that’s what they mean, they’re against the manner of oppression not the principle, less air strikes more deep dark police ‘interrogation’ centres. Of course, as they do today, the MOD keeps lying about our forces uses of torture.

The Ministry of Defence said it was unable to confirm whether British service personnel had received instruction in waterboarding techniques as part of their counterinterrogation training at that time, and it would not disclose whether personnel currently receive such instruction “for reasons of operational security”.

There is evidence that such instruction has been given, however. In 2005 Rod Richard, the former Welsh Office minister, told a Welsh newspaper that he had been waterboarded during his counterinterrogation training as a Royal Marines officer in the late 60s.

The Guardian has spoken to a former Royal Marines officer who says that he and his fellow officers and their men were all waterboarded at the end of their escape and evasion training at Lympstone, Devon, in the late 60s and early 70s.

Seven months before Holden was detained by British soldiers, the Heath government had publicly repudiated and banned five “interrogation techniques”. RUC officers had learned the techniques – hooding, sleep deprivation, starvation and the use of stress positions and noise – from British military intelligence officers, but Heath assured the Commons that they “will not be used in future as an aid to interrogation”.

There were subsequently unconfirmed allegations that the British army had experimented with other methods of torture, including electric shocks, and the use of drugs. Towards the end of the decade, Amnesty International was reporting that terrorism suspects were again being mistreated, this time by RUC detectives, “with sufficient frequency to warrant the establishment of a public inquiry”.