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David Davis Joins Calls for Public Inquiry Into Torture

WASHINGTON - Former Cabinet minister David Davis is calling for an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in torture and rendition. In doing so, he joins an all-party group of MPs and Peers demanding a thorough investigation into how much ministers and security personnel knew about these abuses.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Davis states that: “The need for a full, independent, judge-led inquiry is clear.” He adds that it must be led by “someone untainted by a connection to the intelligence services,” and must have “full legal powers to compel the production of evidence” – unlike the Intelligence and Security Committee, whose damning but incomplete report, published last month, contained shocking examples of British co-operation and intelligence-sharing with known torturers.

Davis raises the prospect of legal action against the Government, should it fail to deliver a thorough accounting of how Britain failed to protect victims. “If the Government rejects the cross-party calls then they will open themselves up to being challenged in the courts,” he writes. “That is an outcome none of us want to see. We have to hope that common sense prevails.”

Cross-party pressure for a public inquiry has been led by Davis’s Conservative colleague Kenneth Clarke, Labour front-benchers Emily Thornberry and Shami Chakrabarti, and senior Liberal Democrat, SNP and Green Party MPs. They argue that a comprehensive reckoning with past complicity is needed to ensure that Britain never gets caught-up in torture again.

Commenting, Reprieve’s Director Maya Foa said: “The ISC’s report exposed our politicians’ shameful willingness to compromise fundamental British values in order to support the US-led ‘war on terror’. With Donald Trump in the White House, and torture enthusiast Gina Haspel in charge of the CIA, the need for effective safeguards on our security cooperation with the US has never been more urgent. The Prime Minister should listen to her colleagues and call an independent judge-led inquiry, to ensure that Britain learns from its mistakes."


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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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