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UK Prime Minister announces torture inquiry

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, July 6, 2010 11:31 EDT
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LONDON — The government unveiled details Tuesday of a judicial inquiry into claims its security services were complicit in the torture of suspected violent extremists after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons that the probe, to be led by retired judge Sir Peter Gibson, was expected to start before the end of the year and should report within 12 months.

He also announced plans to look again at how British courts handle intelligence and admitted that relations with the United States had been “strained” over the disclosure of secret information.

In February, a British court ordered publication of previously secret information about US interrogators’ treatment of Binyam Mohamed, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who is a British resident, to the White House’s dismay.

“While there is no evidence that any British officer was directly engaged in torture in the aftermath of 9/11, there are questions over the degree to which British officers were working with foreign security services who were treating detainees in ways they should not have done,” Cameron said.

“The longer these questions remain unanswered, the bigger the stain on our reputation as a country that believes in freedom, fairness and human rights grows.”

Cameron also announced publication for the first time of guidance for intelligence and military personnel on how to deal with detainees held by other countries.

This includes a stipulation that British agents “must never take any action where they know or believe that torture will occur”.

He additionally indicated that compensation could be offered to people who have brought civil court actions over their treatment at Guantanamo.

Cameron’s coalition government, which took power in May, had already indicated it wanted to hold the inquiry, which has also been backed by human rights organisations like Amnesty International, but his statement outlined how it would work for the first time.

LONDON — The government is set to announce details Tuesday of an inquiry into allegations its security services were complicit in the torture of suspected violent extremists abroad.

“This will be a comprehensive statement which is intended to both deal with the legacy issues and deal with the past and also provide clarity for the security services to enable them to get on with their job,” Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said.

Cameron’s coalition government, which took power in May, has already indicated it wanted to hold the inquiry, which has also been backed by human rights organisations like Amnesty International.

The announcement to parliament will give details of how the judicial probe will operate.

It could lead to compensation for victims and is likely to look at cases including that of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.

Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident who spent time in Afghanistan in 2001 before being detained in Pakistan the following year, says he was interrogated there by an officer from security service MI5 whose role was to support US interrogators.

He was later transferred to Morocco, where he alleges he was tortured by local officers who asked him questions supplied by British agents. He claims to have been tortured in “medieval” ways.

Mohamed won a legal bid in February which forced a British court to disclose details of his mistreatment by American agents, in the face of resistance from London and Washington.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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