ON Wednesday the government published the Evidence Protocol for the ‘inquiry’ into allegations of British complicity in torture – a year after the inquiry was announced, and revealed that it is to be gagged.
The acid test is whether the probed material is to be made public. It is not. In fact, the government’s Cabinet Secretary will make the final decision on whether the material is to be made public.
As well, great care has been taken to ensure that the United States, and other key allies of the UK who carry out torture, are spared a public examination of what they are up to.
The Protocol requires the team conducting the inquiry ‘to respect the understandings and commitment made or given by HMG, including through its intelligence and security agencies, to the authorities and/or agencies of any foreign government …against public disclosure…’.
Liberty, the human rights group, as well, has received a covering letter that stipulates there is to be no questioning by torture victims or their legal representatives, of their tormentors or those who are complicit in their torture.
Liberty has pointed out that Section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes torture an offence anywhere in the world.
The British government is now proposing to carry on breaking the law with their sham inquiry in order to cover up for the torturers and their accomplices, and by creating the conditions where the torturers can remain in business.
The truth is, British governments have been up to their necks in torture and the illegal rendition of persons to be tortured for many years.
Airports in Biggin Hill, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brize Norton, Farnborough, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, RAF Mildenhall, Northolt and Stansted have allowed CIA or CIA-chartered jets to land temporarily, approximately 210 times since 2001.
Liberty informed the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in November 2005 that the UK is in breach of domestic and international law by allowing CIA ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights to land and re-fuel in Britain.
On 7th June 2006 the Council of Europe released preliminary findings concluding that CIA flights carrying terror suspects likely to face torture have been given access to UK airspace and airports.
In May 2008, in order to assist his defence against terrorism charges in the US, Binyam Mohamed made an application to the High Court requesting the UK government disclose documents provided to it by the US government which gave details of his treatment by the US authorities. Mohamed alleged that he had been subjected to torture while in US custody, consisting of genital mutilation, deprivation of sleep and food, being held in stress positions for days at a time, and being forced to listen to loud music and screams of other prisoners while locked in a pitch-black cell, all while being forced to implicate himself and others in terrorist plots against the US.
The High Court ruled that Mr Mohamed was entitled to the documents because they concerned wrongdoing by a third party in which the UK government had been involved.
Up to this date, the British government has refused to release seven key clauses of the High Court judgement on the grounds that it would breach the ‘diplomatic rule’ that intelligence provided by one government to another should not be disclosed without the consent of the government which provided it.
Now the Coalition is carrying on from where the Labour government left off, with its sham ‘silenced’ inquiry into British complicity.
What has emerged is that there is no legal, bourgeois way to unmask the torturers and their agents, and stop the torture. Since its source is the requirements of capitalism and imperialism, it can only be stopped through socialist revolutions that smash capitalism and imperialism worldwide.