UK Govt. announces torture inquiry

British Prime Minister David Cameron on 6 July announced an independent investigation into allegations that U.K. agents were complicit in the torture of detainees in United States custody, and said the U.K. government would compensate torture survivors if the allegations were found to be true.

The inquiry comes after 12 ex-detainees brought civil cases against the government, claiming that British agents took part in their mistreatment while they were held in prisons in foreign countries.

The government also published rewritten guidance for intelligence and military personnel on how to deal with detainees held by other countries, which it said would make clear they must never take any action where they know or believe torture will occur.

Cameron said that the inquiry would not begin until civil claims have been resolved through mediation or settled with compensation, and until Scotland Yard investigations into the conduct of two intelligence officers had been concluded.

A three-person inquiry panel will be headed by Sir Peter Gibson, a former appeal court judge who is currently commissioner for the intelligence services. He will be assisted by Dame Janet Paraskeva, the head of the civil service commissioners, and Peter Riddell, the former Times political commentator who is now a senior fellow at the Institute for Government.
 
Most of the inquiry will be held in secret, but victims of torture and their representatives will be able to give evidence during open sessions, as will representatives of human rights groups. Cameron also announced that the government will prepare a green paper on the handling of intelligence information in the courts, following US concerns about the exposure of secret documents.

Human rights groups have welcomed the announcement. Following Prime Minister Cameron’s announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union called on the Obama administration to broaden its own investigation into the Bush-era torture program to include top-level government officials who may have known about and authorized such abuse.

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2 Responses

  1. On Tuesday 6th July the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament in response to the serious allegations that have been made about the role the UK has played in the treatment of detainees held by other countries, and set out how the Government intends to settle the issues of the past, make clear the rules of operation for the future, and build a framework for justice that enhances both security and liberty.

    As part of this work, and to be as clear as possible about the standards under which the intelligence agencies and armed forces operate, the Government has published “Consolidated Guidance to Intelligence Officers and Service Personnel on the Detention and Interviewing of Detainees Overseas, and on the Passing and Receipt of Intelligence Relating to Detainees together with a note of additional information from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Home Secretary, and the Defence Secretary.

  2. […] Spiga The legal action charity Reprieve has called on Sir Peter Gibson, chosen to lead the UK inquiry into British complicity in the torture of detainees held by the US and other countries, to step […]

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