NINE rights groups have said they will boycott a parliamentary inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the CIA’s torture and rendition programmes.
Amnesty International, Reprieve, Liberty, Cage, Rights Watch UK, Freedom From Torture, Redress, Justice and the Aire Centre have written a strongly-worded letter to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), saying they have completely lost trust in the committee’s ability to uncover the truth.
The letter, dated 30 October, pointed out the groups had written to former foreign secretary Hague on 25 March, adding: ‘The concerns we raised remain unaltered and have not been allayed by the Foreign Secretary’s response.
‘Consequently, we as a collective of domestic and international nongovernmental organisations do not propose to play a substantive role in the conduct of this inquiry.’
The letter said that ‘the Prime Minister had expressly ruled out the possibility of the ISC carrying out the investigation, recognising that an inquiry led by a judge who is “fully independent of Parliament, party and government” was required “to get to the bottom of the case”.
‘We are therefore deeply disappointed that, having pledged to hold a judge-led inquiry shortly after taking office, both parties of government have now U-turned on that promise.
‘We remain unpersuaded that the decision to cut short the work of the flawed Gibson inquiry and to pass the baton on to the ISC is an adequate substitute for the establishment of an independent judicial inquiry.’
The letter stressed: ‘The participation and engagement with the detainees in this process must be paramount.
‘Without such participation, it is difficult to see how any inquiry could learn lessons from the past and work toward providing redress and reparation for victims of abuse. It is a matter of significant regret that the government has to date refused to establish such an inquiry.’
The groups conclude: ‘The ISC is not and cannot be, by its very design, adequate to the task of carrying out an independent investigation of these violations.
‘Despite the minor changes to the Committee made by the recent Justice and Security Act, it remains the case that the Prime Minister holds an absolute veto over its membership, the evidence which it is allowed to examine, and the information which it is allowed to publish.
‘We are therefore of the view that the Committee has neither the powers nor the independence necessary to get to the truth of Britain’s involvement in the rendition and torture of detainees abroad. Any investigation conducted by the ISC will be inherently flawed.’