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ABUSE CRISIS: UK Foreign Secretary: We Cannot Ignore Evidence Gained By Torture

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posted on Mar, 12 2005 @ 03:18 PM
In a letter to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has stated that despite torture being "completely unacceptable", information garnered through such means should not be ignored if it can prevent further acts of terrorism. The ISC has found that members of MI6 were involved in interrogating prisoners under conditions in breach of the Geneva Conventions and has advocated improved training of intelligence officers regarding UK and international conventions on the treatment of prisoners, as well as instructing them to report cases of abuse to US officers.
The MPs - members of the Prime Minister's special Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC)- said British intelligence officers involved in interrogating prisoners were not properly trained on their obligations under the Geneva Conventions.They found that officers from the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, were twice involved in questioning Iraqi detainees who were hooded in breach of the conventions and UK rules.

The ISC was told Britain's anti-terrorist forces had prevented attacks by using intelligence gained from so-called "ghost prisoners" held by the US in breach of the Geneva Conventions. The "ghost prisoners" are held at undisclosed locations, under unknown conditions with no access by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Mr Straw wrote to the committee: "Just in terms of moral calculus, [what] if we had been told through liaison partners that 11 September was going to happen with all the details. Now torture is completely unacceptable and [we would] query whether that was the reason why we got the information ... but you cannot ignore it if the price of ignoring it is 3,000 people dead."

The Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by the former cabinet minister Ann Taylor, found that, when concerns were raised by UK intelligence officers about the treatment of prisoners by the Americans, they were not properly followed up with the US authorities.

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The ISC also stated that the government failed to properly investigate reports from its intelligence officers regarding the abuse of prisoners in US custody.
Gov't failed to press US over prisoner mistreatment properly: MPs
The ISC highlighted cases where British intelligence officers complained about the treatment of detainees by the Americans but their concerns were not followed up.

"We have reported that on a number of occasions, when UK officials informed the U.S. authorities of their concerns, these were not fully followed up by the UK," the report found.

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Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, has made some extraordinary allegations, including claiming that the British government is complicit in proliferating the use of torture by accepting intelligence gained from it. Murray announced last week he would stand against Jack Straw in the general election.
Ex-ambassador slams Straw over torture
“The UN has said torture is widespread and systematic in Uzbekistan. But the Uzbeks know fine that their security services are passing on to the CIA and MI6 the results of the torture, and they’re lapping them up,” Murray said.

“So even though the Foreign Office will tell you, ‘Oh, we have condemned torture in Uzbekistan’, it doesn’t mean anything, because by accepting the intelligence you are tipping them the wink to carry on.”

Murray, 46, a Scot and graduate of Dundee University, also criticised the Home Office decision to place suspects under house arrest without trial on the basis of intelligence reports, saying that the reliability of evidence obtained under torture was “questionable”.

“One thing that’s so horrible about this whole thing is that this kind of evidence obtained under torture is the kind of material that’s being used to keep these poor people locked up for three years without trial and without charge on the basis on intelligence reports,” he said.

Murray has been a controversial figure since late 2002, when, just a few months after taking up his posting, he publicised his fears that “brutality” was rife in Uzbek jails and highlighted a case where two men had been boiled to death.

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Publication of Straw's letter and the statements issued by the IRC come on the same day that the Labour Party's controversial anti-terrorism bill was pushed through parliament.

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[edit on 2005/3/12 by wecomeinpeace]


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