Britain's Complicity In Torture

Human Rights Watch releases a new report:

The damning report, which the UN body says is based on interviews with the suspects, their families and lawyers, warned the UK government that it was on the verge of losing its moral  Dastmalchi20091124183931171 legitimacy as it faces a "legally, morally and politically invidious position".

It added that British officials who interrogated four suspects detained in Pakistan could not have missed "clear and visible signs of torture" including the removal of fingernails. The report concluded that "the UK complicity is clear" despite a lack of evidence indicating direct involvement.

British and American agents involved in one case were not only "perfectly aware that we were using all means possible to extract information…[but]…grateful that we were doing so," one Pakistani intelligence source told HRW.

Notice that American agents were involved as well. Norm Geras writes:

HRW's finding of British complicity in torture is ... a matter for serious concern and its demand for an independent public inquiry fully justified. Crucial in this regard is the finding that:

In... five cases, British officials and agents first colluded with illegal detention by the Pakistan authorities and then took the collusion further by repeatedly interviewing or passing questions to the detainees between or during torture sessions. [Italics mine.]

Article 4.1 of the UN Convention Against Torture reads:

Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

Generalized statements by government ministers on this matter do not answer to the gravity of the findings in HRW's report. An inquiry is called for.

Agreed. And the responsible parties need to be held accountable - under the law. Including, if necessary, former prime minister Tony Blair and current prime minister Gordon Brown.