Get your own House in order – UK’s torture allegations

So we now know that the CIA used ‘waterboarding’, mock execution, ‘rectal feeding’, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other cruel and degrading treatment against detainees.

What we still don’t know is how deeply the UK government was involved. What is apparent however is that the inquiry lead by the Intelligence and Security Committee does not have what it needs to get to the truth.

Political pressure is building for the independent, judge-led inquiry the prime minister promised us over four and a half years ago. Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has doubts whether the Intelligence and Security Committee has ‘the capacity and the scope’ to carry out an inquiry. Further stating it remained her ‘instinct’ that a judge-led process would still be required to ensure confidence.

A growing number of high-profile Conservative politicians have called for a judge-led inquiry.

They include David Davis, Andrew Tyrie, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rendition, the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve and the Former Cabinet Minister Andrew Mitchell; who urged for the issue to be placed in the hands of a ‘judge who has had and has no connection whatsoever with the British security services’.

Even the deputy prime minister has ‘an open mind about a judicial inquiry’.

3 reasons why the ISC is wrong for the job

Andrew Marr’s interview this Sunday with the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) revealed three clear reasons (although there are many more) why this committee is the wrong body to secure justice, truth and accountability. Lessons need to be learnt from the past.

Firstly, Sir Malcolm Rifkind reminded us that his committee can only ‘request’ that former and serving ministers give evidence to their inquiry. Even stating that if they refuse to come it ‘would imply they had something to hide’. So if those implicated, from Jack Straw to Tony Blair, and others, decide they just don’t fancy it, there is nothing the committee can do. Not normally how justice is achieved?

Secondly, Sir Malcolm confirmed that the evidence given by current and former ministers, if they decide to play ball, will not be under oath as that can only happen in a court of law. So if they do decide to turn up, they are under no legal obligation to tell the truth. Not normally how the truth is revealed?

Finally, Sir Malcolm said the committee would act ‘without fear or favour’ and would seek answers from senior and former ministers. However he added ‘if people deserve to be embarrassed, it's our job to embarrass them.’ Embarrassment? Not normally how accountability is achieved?

We don’t want embarrassment – we want truth and accountability. And the victims of torture deserve justice.

Take action

Over 22,000 of you have already called on our prime minister to hold a fully independent, judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in rendition and torture.

It is high time the UK committed to properly investigating our country’s role. Please join our call.

Only a judge-led inquiry, with adequate powers would ensure that those implicated will be independently investigated, forced to give evidence, to do so under oath and be held to account.

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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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