Torture: its a funny old world

It’s a funny old world ain’t it? Take a couple of prominent speeches by our elected politicians in the House of Commons in the last two days.

Yesterday: David Davis – of opposition to 42 days pre-charge detention fame – blasting the government over a failure to answer allegations that members of Her Majesty’s Government have been complicit in torture.

Today: the foreign secretary David Miliband’s reply – pushing aside the stuff about torture and focusing again and again on the intelligence sharing relationship with the United States and the “inevitable” “serious and lasting harm” if the "fundamental principle” of confidentiality within this relationship is even slightly tampered with.

Now call me churlish but I would have thought the “serious and lasting harm” done to the man at the centre of this row – Binyam Mohamed, who has allegedly had his genitals slashed with a scalpel because of the USA’s “war on terrror” – might just outweigh the theroretical harm done to an intellegence-sharing relationship.

In fact, when you think about it, how special is the fabled special relationship if it means our politicians support the idea of keeping information about the torture of UK residents (UK residents!) out of the public domain? Maybe it is special – but not in the way that people usually mean …

How to digest all of this? Chicken Yoghurt scathingly refers to the Carol Thatcher row and more snow in the west country as news that might bury the attempt by Miliband to … er, bury news about torture. Jack Of Kent compares the apparent bullying of our courts to the infamous BAE Saudi fraud case. And Ken Gude on Comment is Free takes a contrary tack, thinking the danger to “intelligence cooperation among a broad set of key countries” and the UK is at risk and finding the Foreign secretary’s line convincing.

You pays yer money …

But if you ask me something is going badly wrong if our Foreign Secretary is trying to cover up torture rather than exposing it and trying to stop it. More on this from Amnesty here – please join in the debate on whether David Miliband is right on this blog platform and also on the Telegraph site where I have another post up today.

What! Amnesty on the Telegraph blog platform? Like I said, it’s a funny old world ain’t it?

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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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