They havent done a very good job on you - MI5 and torture

Another week, another MI5 torture collusion allegation. Or that’s how it‘s beginning to feel. The Guardian’s front-page story today on the torture and arbitrary detention a British man called Jamil Rahman says he suffered in Bangladesh is shocking in itself. But it’s made more so for British readers by the fact that Jamil is saying MI5 were there when this was happening and supported the work of the Bangladeshi torturers.

In Jamil’s account, though, the MI5 operatives were initially unhappy. Why? Could they have been worried that a British man was getting brutalised? No, they were apparently concerned that Jamil wasn’t talking. “They haven’t done a very good job on you”, they allegedly said at one stage, dissatisfied at Jamil’s continued unwillingness to say he’d “masterminded” the London bombings. They seem to be tough taskmasters these MI5 people (“Liam” and “Andrew” in this case, apparently).

This was in 2005 and Jamil’s now back in the UK and taking a civil action against the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Any of this sound familiar yet? After Binyam Mohamed’s allegations that MI5 turned a blind eye to his torture in Pakistan, and a string of similar allegations concerning MI5 and Pakistan uncovered by the Guardian (an investigation which has, by the way, been entered by the paper into Amnesty’s media awards), you have to say that Gordon Brown’s decision to order a review of MI5 operations was desperately needed. I have to also say, though, it’s not enough. “Reviews” are one thing (nice, controlled affairs that are easy to water down if necessary) but a proper independent inquiry is what we need. Support the Amnesty call here.

So, the MPs’ expenses scandal may be grabbing all the headlines (alright, no maybe about it!) but actually the involvement of the Security Service in the torture of British nationals (and others) around the world could eventually prove the bigger scandal. Think I’m exaggerating? Maybe. But if I were you I wouldn’t bet your second home against this issue being the dirty secret that comes back to haunt the Tony Blair government of the post 9/11 era. (Read more on this from a fascinating historical perspective by the brilliant lawyer Gareth Peirce).  Finally a quick mention for the fact that tomorrow Amnesty’s publishing its annual report on the state of human rights around the world. Covering torture and every imaginable human rights violation in over 150 countries (we’re talking Afghanistan to Zimbabwe) and weighing in at 400 pages - this (in it’s paper form!) is an old-fashioned doorstopper.

But for those who prefer their human rights information in non-paper form (!), you can access the full document online from tomorrow on the Amnesty site. More to come on this story in the Amnesty media blog tomorrow. 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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