THE High Court has today heard, in the case of R (Serdar Mohammed) v Secretary of State for Defence, that British forces passed hundreds of prisoners to the Afghan Secret Service (the NDS – National Directorate of Security) despite clear evidence of torture.
In the weight of the evidence that the MoD has had to disclose, it has reluctantly conceded that the practice must stop. The UK practice of handing prisoners over to the NDS gives rise to a real risk of torture.
What is startling is that the prevalence of torture in NDS facilities was clear to the MoD within weeks of the successful outcome of Maya Evans’ challenge to the practice in 2010. That case won important additional monitoring protections and an agreement to suspend transfers if allegations arose.
However, it is now clear that despite clear evidence of torture, the MoD failed to honour those arrangements. The evidence shows that the clear risk of torture became clear within weeks of the 2010 judgment. It shows that British officials found lengths of pipes and whips in interrogation rooms on several occasions.
The MoD’s complicity in these matters is profound. Instead of stopping the practice, the MoD allowed it to be covered up. Torture was known to MoD officials within weeks of the 2010 judgment in Maya Evans’ case, yet none of this information was disclosed to Public Interest Lawyers in correspondence in 2010, 2011 or 2012.
The letter – dated 7th October 2010 – informed PIL that ‘the conditions are working well in conjunction with the existing safeguards’, when in fact torture of detainees was already known to the MoD at that date.
Speaking yesterday, Maya Evans said: ‘Today’s decision to halt prisoner handovers is a complete vindication of my legal challenge. The law that we established in that case has enabled this victory. But why did the MoD need to be forced, kicking and screaming, to make it?
‘It is extraordinary that prisoners told MoD monitors they had been tortured, that they had scars to show for it, and the torture implements were in the room, yet the MoD did nothing.’