UK Torture Inquiry Must Be Independent and Thorough

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UK Torture Inquiry Must Be Independent and Thorough

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International
calls on the United Kingdom government to ensure that its inquiry into
U.K.
complicity in torture and other human rights violations of those
detained
abroad since September 11, 2001, is thorough, independent and as
transparent
as possible.

The organization welcomes the inquiry,
which
the United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron announced yesterday, as
an important first step towards achieving genuine accountability for
past
human rights abuses.  

"We have long called for an inquiry into
the credible allegations that U.K.
officials and agents were involved in torture and other human rights
abuses,
including renditions, arbitrary detention and other ill-treatment, of
individuals
detained abroad,"
said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia
Director.        

"The right of individuals to know the
truth
about the human rights abuses they have suffered is fundamental in
securing
their right to redress, ensuring that justice is achieved and that
states
cannot commit human rights abuses with impunity."

The inquiry will be led by Sir Peter
Gibson,
who is currently the statutory Commissioner for the Intelligence
Services,
and will examine the United Kingdom's involvement with detainees in
overseas
counter-terrorism operations in the aftermath of the September 11th
attacks
on the United States; including those policies that governed the conduct
of U.K.
secret services in their operations abroad.    

The detailed terms of reference for the
inquiry
are yet to be published, but it is expected to focus in particular on
cases
involving the detention of U.K.
nationals and residents at the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

The cases of the former Guantanamo Bay
detainees
are currently subject to criminal investigations and/or civil litigation
proceedings; including a civil lawsuit brought by six former detainees
- Bisher al-Rawi, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Binyam Mohamed, Jamil
el-Banna and Martin Mubanga - who are seeking financial compensation
from
the United Kingdom government on the grounds of their claims that
British
intelligence agencies were complicit in their detention, torture and
other
mistreatment.

Amnesty International remains concerned
over
certain aspects of the inquiry as proposed by Cameron.

"It is not clear that the inquiry will
have
sufficient authority and independence from the executive to ensure that
the full truth about the United Kingdom's involvement in human rights
abuses can emerge," said Duckworth.

The degree to which the inquiry's
hearings
will be held in secret and the extent to which the evidence will be kept
from the public and from the victims of the alleged abuses is a cause
for
concern, the organization said.

For example, the Prime Minister has
granted
himself the power to decide the extent to which the findings of the
inquiry
can be made public.  

"State secrecy should not be invoked as
a means of preventing an independent, impartial and thorough
investigation
into these allegations and cannot be used to prevent the truth about
serious
human rights violations emerging," said Duckworth.  

Additionally, while Amnesty
International
agrees that the inquiry should not be open-ended and should be carried
out promptly, expediency must not be a substitute or compromise for the
thoroughness of the inquiry.

Amnesty International calls on the
government
to ensure that the inquiry's proceedings are independent, thorough and
as transparent as possible and that the conclusions and recommendations
of the inquiry are made public.

Genuine accountability for serious human
rights violations requires the truth about those violations to be
publically
known.

The government has also released new
guidelines
for the interrogation by U.K.
security services of detainees held overseas by foreign intelligence
agencies
and announced that a Green Paper would be published reviewing how
intelligence
is treated in judicial proceedings.

Amnesty International is currently
examining
the guidelines and will communicate any concerns we have to the
government.

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We are people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world.

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