Britain’s role in the torture of its own citizens in Pakistan is condemned today by one of the world’s leading human rights organisations as being cruel, counter-productive and in clear breach of international law.
In a damning report, published after an investigation spanning more than a year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the government finds itself in a “legally, morally and politically invidious position” through complicity in torture, and warns its moral legitimacy could be undermined.
The report by the New York-based NGO – entitled Cruel Britannia: British Complicity in the Torture and Ill-treatment of Terror Suspects in Pakistan – corroborates many of the findings of the Guardian’s own investigation into the mistreatment of people held during British-led counter-terrorism operations. [continued…]
Today sees the release by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of a searing exposé of the evidence against the British government of its complicity in the torture of people held in Pakistan suspected of terrorism. The report, Cruel Britannia, is based on evidence collected by Ali Dayan Hasan, a senior HRW researcher who interviewed not only suspects and their lawyers but also members of the Pakistani ISI agency who were involved in the torture. It corroborates and provides further detail for the investigative reporting on torture of the Guardian’s Ian Cobain, who recently won the Paul Foot award.
Human Rights Watch, a US-based organisation, has an excellent reputation for independence and fair-minded monitoring. The allegations that British security services knew about torture in Pakistan, took advantage of it and even encouraged it, must be taken very seriously.
The report analyses in some detail the “far from decisive” response of the UK government so far to these and other allegations. Foreign secretary David Miliband and others repeat a mantra that the UK government does not condone torture, but they have refused to investigate the allegations or to publish guidance to officials. Written instructions to security services interrogating suspects in Afghanistan after 9/11 disclosed earlier this year – while saying they should not be seen to “condone” torture – also made it clear that the UK government sanctions a blind eye. The instructions claimed (with dubious legality, let alone morality) that there was no obligation to intervene even when interrogators are aware of torture. [continued…]