Amnesty International report criticises UK’s record on deportation and torture

27 May 2010 by

Amnesty International published its 2010 Report yesterday, documenting torture and other human rights abuses around the world.

In relation to the UK, Amnesty’s report condemns the UK’s continuing reliance on “diplomatic assurances” in deportation cases where individuals were likely to be at risk of torture or other abuse if sent to countries where the Government accepts they would otherwise be abuse, in particular Algeria and Jordan. The report summarises that:

Reports implicating the UK in grave violations of human rights of people held overseas continued to emerge. Calls for independent investigations into the UK’s role in these violations went unheeded. The government’s attempts to return people to countries known to practise torture on the basis of “diplomatic assurances” (unenforceable promises from the countries where these individuals were to be returned) continued. The European Court of Human Rights found that, by detaining a number of foreign nationals without charge or trial (internment), the UK had violated their human rights. The implementation of measures adopted with the stated aim of countering terrorism led to human rights violations, including unfair judicial proceedings.

Recently, we posted on the decision in the Pathway case, in which a UK Court held that terrorist suspects could not be returned to Pakistan, a country from which the UK has not obtained such ‘diplomatic assurances’, as well as commenting on the political aftermath of that ruling.

The report also criticises the UK for ignoring calls for an independent investigation into allegations that UK intelligence officials were complicit in torture and other human rights violations.  That criticism has now been overtaken, and possibly met, by the Government’s announcement last week that a judicial inquiry into the issue would be set up, as reported in the Guardian and elsewhere.

When in opposition, William Hague had called for an independent judicial inquiry into claims that British officials had colluded in the torture of Binyam Mohammed.  Such an inquiry had been an election promise of both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and last week’s announcement appears to deliver on that pledge and to have pre-empted that particular rebuke in the Amnesty Report.

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