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Reports decry UK anti-terror policies on rights, torture, Guantanamo

[JURIST] Two separate reports issued in Britain Thursday strongly criticized the anti-terror strategy of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, documenting domestic deprivations of human rights, condemning UK policy on torture, and urging the government to press the US to shut down its controversial detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The annual human rights report [text; also in PDF] of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee [official website] said Guantanamo's existence was actually an obstacle to international anti-terror efforts and called on the Blair government "to make loud and public its objections to the existence of such a prison regime"; it also recommended that the government clarify its policy on the use of information obtained by other states through torture, and insure that agreements with foreign governments containing assurances that they would not torture individuals deported to them from Britain were more than a "fig leaf" for abuse. Addressing ongoing concerns about UK assistance to secret CIA rendition flights, the Commons report declared "the government has a duty to enquire into the allegations of extraordinary rendition and black sites under the Convention against Torture, and to make clear to the USA that any extraordinary rendition to states where suspects may be tortured is completely unacceptable."

In a separate report [text; accompanying press release] Amnesty International forcefully condemned the government's derogations from human rights in the UK itself, criticizing the use of control orders [BBC backgrounder] restricting the movements and conduct of suspects who cannot be prosecuted, deploring the "sweeping and vague" language in the new Terrorism Bill now going through Parliament, and generally alleging that Britain was now setting a bad example for other countries in the human rights field.

Speaking at his monthly press conference Thursday, Prime Minister Tony Blair generally rejected the criticisms [press conference transcript], in particular standing by his limited characterization of Guantanamo as an "anomaly" [JURIST report]. Matthew Tempest of the Guardian has more.

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