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UK to publish detainee interrogation guidelines

[JURIST] The UK will publish the guidance it gives to intelligence officers for questioning suspects overseas, Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official website] told parliament in a written statement [text] Wednesday. Restating the UK's unequivocal condemnation of torture, Brown said that making the applicable interrogation standards public will "protect the reputation of [UK] security and intelligence services and ... reassure ourselves that everything has been done to ensure that our practices are in line with United Kingdom and international law." The guidelines are expected to be published by May, following consolidation and review by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a Cabinet Office [official websites] committee set up to conduct oversight of UK intelligence activities. Brown charged Intelligence Services Commissioner Sir Peter Gibson with monitoring guideline compliance, continuing to resist calls for a judge-led inquiry [Guardian report]. He noted that the civil courts are the appropriate place for allegations of criminal misconduct to be tried, but that decisions about prosecution must follow an investigation by the attorney general [official website]. Brown also directed the ISC to update its 2005 detainee treatment report [text, PDF] and 2007 rendition report [text, PDF] in light of any new developments or relevant information.

The decision comes amidst allegations from British resident and former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Binyam Mohamed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] that British intelligence agents were complicit in his torture [JURIST report] in Morocco. Mohamed alleges that after being transferred to Morocco under the US extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] program, British MI5 [official website] fed interrogation questions to Moroccan authorities. Earlier this month, the UK government's independent reviewer of terror laws called for a judicial inquiry [JURIST report] into British complicity in US rendition and torture. British media reported that UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak told British ministers that MI5 may have been complicit [JURIST report] in torture committed while detainees including Mohamed were in US custody. Mohamed was returned to the UK [JURIST report] in March following seven years of detention, including five at Guantanamo Bay, where he was held on charges of conspiring to commit terrorism. Those charges were dismissed [JURIST report] in October, but Mohamed remained in custody while US authorities considered filing new charges.

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