UK STILL IMPICATED IN TORTURE – charges Amnesty report

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Reprieve prostest in June 2008 demanding the release of Binyam Mohamed from Guantanamo prison
Reprieve prostest in June 2008 demanding the release of Binyam Mohamed from Guantanamo prison

‘REPORTS implicating the UK in grave violations of human rights of people held overseas continued to emerge,’ Amnesty International says in its 2010 Report.

Amnesty says: ‘The European Court of Human Rights found that, by detaining a number of foreign nationals without charge or trial (internment), the UK had violated their human rights.

‘The executive gained powers to circumvent and undermine the independence of coroners’ inquests.

‘Twenty years after Patrick Finucane’s death, an inquiry into state collusion in his killing had yet to be established.’

In August, two Parliamentary Committees expressed concern about the UK’s involvement in the torture of terror suspects held abroad.

Calls for independent investigations into the UK’s role in these and the violations of human rights carried out in the so-called war on terror, including the UK’s involvement in the US-led rendition programme went unheeded.

The report deals with the case of Binyam Mohamed.

‘In February, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national formerly residing in the UK, was released from US custody at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he had been held since 2004, and returned to the UK.

‘He had been detained in Pakistan in April 2002 and then transported under the US-led rendition programme to Morocco, then to Afghanistan, and then on to Guantánamo Bay.

‘UK judges ruled repeatedly during the year that the UK government should disclose what the US Central Intelligence Agency told the UK’s Security Service (MI5) and what the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) knew of the unlawful treatment of Binyam Mohamed.

‘They also made clear that the relationship of the United Kingdom Government to the United States authorities in connection with (Binyam Mohamed) was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing.’

Amnesty’s report also says: ‘In February, the government admitted that, contrary to earlier statements, two individuals captured by UK forces in Iraq in 2004 and transferred to US detention had subsequently been moved to a US detention facility in Afghanistan.

‘The US government categorized them as “unlawful enemy combatants”.

‘There was concern that efforts to identify them were being hampered by the UK government.

‘In December, the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition began legal proceedings in the USA, requesting disclosure from various US security agencies about the UK’s role in the US-led rendition programme.

‘This included the unlawful transfer of two people through the UK territory of Diego Garcia, and the handover in Iraq by UK special forces to US forces of other individuals who were then flown to Afghanistan.’

Amnesty stated: ‘Attempts continued to deport individuals alleged to pose a threat to “national security” to countries where they would be at risk of grave human rights violations, including torture.

‘The government continued to argue that “diplomatic assurances” were sufficient to reduce the risk they would face.

‘In February, two Algerian nationals, referred to in legal proceedings in the UK as “RB” and “U”, and Omar Othman (also known as Abu Qatada), a Jordanian national, lost their appeals before the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (the Law Lords) against deportation to their respective countries on “national security” grounds.

‘In all three cases the government was relying on “diplomatic assurances”, given by the Algerian and Jordanian governments respectively, claiming that they would sufficiently reduce the risk that the men would be subjected to grave human rights violations, including torture, on their return.

‘The following day, the European Court of Human Rights issued interim measures indicating to the government that Omar Othman should not be deported to Jordan.’

Amnesty also warns of internment, saying: ‘In February, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that, interning nine foreign nationals on suspicion of terrorism, the UK had violated their right to liberty.

‘Detaining them without charge or trial had discriminated unjustifiably between them and UK nationals.

‘The Court also found that four of the nine had not been able to effectively challenge the allegations against them because the open material on which the government had relied consisted purely of general assertions and the national court’s decision to maintain their detention was based solely or to a decisive degree on secret material to which neither they nor their lawyers of choice had had access.

‘The Court also held that each of the nine had been denied the right to compensation for the above violations.’

On the issue of ‘Control orders’, the Amnesty report says: ‘As of 10 December there were 12 “control orders” in force under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

‘The Act gives a government minister unprecedented powers to issue “control orders” to restrict the liberty, movement and activities of people purportedly suspected of involvement in terrorism, on the basis of secret intelligence.

‘In June, the Law Lords applied the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (see above) and allowed the appeals of three individuals, referred to as “AF”, “AN” and “AE”, against the imposition of “control orders”, finding that it had breached their right to a fair hearing.

‘The Law Lords ruled unanimously that sufficient disclosure must be given to “AF”, “AN” and “AE”.

‘The judgement ruled that people subjected to “control orders” had to be given sufficient information about the allegations against them to enable them to mount an effective defence, and that, where the case against the “controlee” was based solely or to a decisive degree on closed materials, fair trial standards would not be met.’

Amnesty’s report also condemns the treatment of refugees, saying: ‘In October, contrary to the advice of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the government attempted to forcibly return 44 Iraqis to Baghdad.

‘On arrival the Iraqi authorities accepted only 10 and the other 34 Iraqis were flown back to the UK and detained on arrival.’