UK panel to investigate torture allegations

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] said Tuesday that he will create a panel to investigate claims that British government agents were complicit in the torture of terrorism suspects held overseas. The inquiry comes after 12 ex-detainees brought civil cases against the government, claiming that British agents took part in their mistreatment while they were held in prisons in foreign countries, including Pakistan and Morocco. The UK will ask the ex-detainees to drop their lawsuits [AP report] in exchange for possible compensation and a promise that the inquiry will fully investigate their claims. Cameron said that he hopes to start the investigation by the end of the year, once a separate investigation [JURIST report] into the actions of MI5 and MI6 agents at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] concludes, and to have a full report back within the next 12 months. Cameron named former judge Peter Gibson [press release], who is currently serving as the nation's Intelligence Services Commissioner, to lead the three-member panel. Gibson, the former Lord Justice of Appeal and Chairman of the Law Commission, is in his second term as Intelligence Services Commissioner, whose job is to review actions taken by the Secretary of State and by British intelligence under the Intelligence Services Act of 1994 [text]. He has yet to determine whether parts of the investigation can be held publicly.

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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