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UK court allows ex-Guantanamo detainees' torture suit to continue

The UK High Court announced Wednesday that a lawsuit, filed by former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees and alleging that the UK government was complicit in their torture, can proceed. The lawsuit, filed by 12 ex-detainees, alleges that British agents took part in their mistreatment while they were held in prisons in foreign countries, including Pakistan and Morocco. The UK government had asked that the lawsuit be suspended [AP report] while the government conducted an independent investigation [JURIST report] into the allegations and while settlement negotiations are ongoing. UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] announced the creation of the inquiry [press release] last week but indicated that the inquiry could not begin while the lawsuit was continuing. The judge, however, ruled that the lawsuit can continue even as the negotiations are ongoing. Cameron has stated that he hopes to start the inquiry by the end of the year, once a separate investigation [JURIST report] into the actions of MI5 and MI6 agents at Guantanamo Bay concludes, and to have a full report back within the next 12 months.

The British government indicated last week that it will issue a new set of regulations regarding the use of information obtained via torture [JURIST report]. The announcement came as part of the government's defense against a lawsuit filed by the human rights group Reprieve [advocacy website], which has been seeking a review of the country's torture policy. A UK High Court judge agreed that the country's policy must be reviewed [press release], but indicated that because lawyers for the government promised new guidelines would be released shortly, the court would take no immediate action. Similar claims of complicity were made against the government in a new report [materials] released last week by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. According to HRW, intelligence services in France, Germany and the UK lack proper oversight of intelligence information that is received from countries that torture.

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