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Miliband on Rendition: Government accused of being 'soft on USA'

Amnesty International has responded to today’s statement from the Foreign Secretary David Miliband about US “rendition” flights by branding the UK government “soft on the USA” on the issue of these deeply controversial flights.

In his parliamentary statement today Mr Miliband outlines what he says is a US confirmation that - with the exception of two previously mentioned cases concerning Diego Garcia - “there have been no other instances in which US intelligence flights landed in the United Kingdom, our Overseas Territories, or the Crown Dependencies”.

Amnesty International UK renditions policy adviser Ann Snow said:

“David Miliband’s latest statement on rendition is disappointing and leaves unanswered a whole raft of questions about the UK’s role - whether inadvertent or deliberate - in US renditions.

“The overwhelming impression given is that the UK is ‘soft’ on the USA when it comes to ascertaining the full story on renditions.

“The UK government should not be brushed off with vague ‘assurances’ or narrow definitions of what renditions are, but seek a full disclosure of the US’s rendition and secret detention programme.”

“In the UK, we need a properly independent and thorough investigation into the UK’s involvement in rendition - including flights believed to have been on the way to or from a rendition (the ‘rendition circuit’) and not just those with detainees on board.”

Amnesty International has published several reports on US rendition flights, including numerous flights that have landed at UK and Irish airports. The most recent one - published two weeks ago - accused European countries, including the UK, of being in a “state of denial” about the entire issue of renditions and their role in them.

To prevent renditions from happening in the future, Amnesty International is recommending that all governments establish the requirement that any aircraft seeking permission to travel across or land in European territory must indicate whether it is carrying any passengers who are deprived of their liberty, giving their status and the legal basis for their transfer.

Amnesty is also calling on the UK government to sign and ratify the UN Convention on Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. This would provide important protections against some of the worst abuses of rendition and secret detention. Amnesty is concerned that the UK is fast being left behind by other European states that have already taken this important step.

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