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UK Commons report casts doubt on US denial of torture techniques
UK Commons report casts doubt on US denial of torture techniques

[JURIST] The Human Rights Annual Report 2007 [text, PDF] released Sunday by the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee [committee website] recommended that the UK not rely on any assurances made by the US that it does not use torture. The report also calls on the UK to fully investigate US interrogation tactics to ensure that no torture techniques are being used on US detainees. The report's section on torture focuses on waterboarding [JURIST news archive] and the disconnect between US statements that the practice does not constitute torture and testimony by UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband [official website] that "water-boarding [sic] amounts to torture." The Foreign Affairs Committee wrote in the report:

We conclude that the Foreign Secretary's view that water-boarding is an instrument of torture is to be welcomed. However, given the recent practice of water-boarding by the US, there are serious implications arising from the Foreign Secretary's stated position. We conclude that, given the clear differences in definition, the UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the Government does not rely on such assurances in the future. We also recommend that the Government should immediately carry out an exhaustive analysis of current US interrogation techniques on the basis of such information as is publicly available or which can be supplied by the US. We further recommend that, once its analysis is completed, the Government should inform this Committee and Parliament as to its view on whether there are any other interrogation techniques that may be approved for use by the US Administration which it considers to constitute torture.

BBC News has more.

Earlier this month, the Foreign Affairs Committee denounced [JURIST report] what it termed "false US assurances" about rendition flights through the UK Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia. The committee also said the "failure of the United States Administration to tell the truth resulted in the UK Government inadvertently misleading" the committee and House of Commons about US operations on a military base [official website] located on the island. Lawyers for Reprieve [advocacy website], a UK legal charity representing some of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, alleged [report, PDF] last year that UK overseas territories have been used "to support illegal interstate transfer, enforced disappearance and torture in the context of the 'war on terror'" and urged UK lawmakers to question US and UK officials about the allegations. In 2005, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said there had been allegations that the US was secretly detaining prisoners on military vessels [JURIST report] at the Diego Garcia naval base.