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UK court throws out torture guideline challenge

The Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice [official website] on Monday rejected a challenge [ruling, PDF] by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) [advocacy website] that the UK's interrogation guidelines [materials, PDF] are unlawful. The guidelines provide steps that must be taken by intelligence officers before they interview, interrogate or solicit the detention of terror suspects held by foreign governments. The guidance also prohibits interrogation officials from further action if they "know or believe" the torture of a detainee will take place. The EHRC is concerned that the wording of the guidance will mislead interrogators, who could potentially be held personally liable for the torture of suspects.

The guidelines were first published [JURIST report] in 2009 under UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official website]. 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," in a written statement [text]. The EHRC began to challenge the guidelines [JURIST report] in 2010.

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