TEN leading human rights organisations, along with victims of torture and their lawyers, have withdrawn from the British government’s Detainee Inquiry because they believe that its purpose is to hide the truth, not to get to it.
In a letter to the Inquiry, the groups – including Reprieve and Amnesty – insist that ‘the process currently proposed does not have the credibility or transparency’ to establish ‘the truth about allegations that UK authorities were involved in the mistreatment of detainees’.
is that the government is to be able to decide what information is to be made public, and the lack of a guarantee that the tortured who are detainees will be allowed full participation.
Reprieve Investigator Tim Cooke-Hurle commented yesterday: ‘Since the torture inquiry was announced a year ago, we have tried repeatedly to make it work. It is frustrating that the government has instead chosen to proceed with a secretive and toothless review. By ignoring the concerns of torture victims and major human rights organisations, the government risks a pointless whitewash.’
News Line believes that the government far from risking a ‘pointless whitewash’ is acting to ensure that this is what happens, and that is why the human rights organisations are very wise not to allow their good names to be used in a cover-up of the British government’s endorsement of torture.
The letter signed by the ten groups states: ‘Plainly an Inquiry conducted in the way that you describe and in accordance with the Protocol would not comply with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We are particularly disappointed that the issue of what material may be disclosed to the public will not be determined independently of government and, further, that there will be no meaningful participation of the former and current detainees and other interested third parties.’
The letter continues: ‘As you know, we were keen to assist the Inquiry in the vital work of establishing the truth about allegations that UK authorities were involved in the mistreatment of detainees held abroad. Our strong view, however, is that the process currently proposed does not have the credibility or transparency to achieve this.’
Reprieve reveals that ‘the definition of evidence that will remain classified for ever is hopelessly over-broad. Set out in Annex A, this effectively includes anything that would in any way breach an “understanding” between the UK and its allies – in other words, anything the Americans would find embarrassing will not be made public. If – when – a British agent watched Americans abusing a prisoner in a secret site (such as Bagram), the Inquiry will determine that the agreement was that they were only present on the “understanding” that nothing should be made public. Given that the essence of British complicity involves working with the US on torture and rendition, the exception to publicity swallows the rule.
‘Second, there is no meaningful, independent (preferably judicial) review of what should be kept secret. The Inquiry may only refer its own complaints (based on a definition that would justify classifying anything) to the very body that has previously insisted on secrecy. Unlike other inquiries where victims have made serious allegations of torture, the victims will not have meaningful legal representation. Their advisers will be denied access to any documents or hearings deemed secret by the Inquiry.
‘Third, the Inquiry is left toothless due to a lack of powers to compel the attendance of witnesses or the provision of evidence or information from any party or organisation. Notably, the Inquiry has refused to consider evidence against UK-based corporations with alleged links to the US rendition programme.’
The attempts to involve human rights groups in a cover-up of UK and US torture of detainees proves the point once again. This is that the only way to get to the truth, and make it public knowledge, is through organising a socialist revolution to smash the capitalist state, bringing in a workers government that will open up all of the torture files of all of the state agencies to the gaze of the entire world, so that everybody will see how British ‘democratic capitalism’ actually ruled.