Need for thorough Gibson torture inquiry ‘underlined’
Responding to the reported comments of former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf’s that there may have been “tacit approval” by the UK authorities of the torture of detainees in detention in Pakistan during the “war on terror”, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Policy and Government Affairs Jeremy Croft said:
“If accurately reported these are extremely worrying comments from Mr Musharraf.
“On the one hand it is deeply disturbing that he is apparently seeking to justify the torture of detainees in Pakistan. And on the other, it’s alarming that he’s saying the UK was providing tacit support for the cruel treatment of detainees.
“Mr Musharraf’s comments only serve to underline the significance of the forthcoming Gibson inquiry and the need for it to be independent, impartial, thorough, subject to public scrutiny and to allow for the effective participation of victims.
“There are already concerns that the inquiry may be unwilling to ensure it operates according to international human rights standards.”
In an interview due to be televised this evening, Mr Musharraf apparently seeks to justify torture and the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees by saying “We are dealing with vicious people and you have to get information … Now if you are extremely decent, we then don’t get any information … We need to allow leeway to the intelligence services, the people who interrogate.”
Several UK nationals or former residents have alleged that they were tortured in Pakistan in recent years and last year David Cameron announced that there would be an inquiry into allegations of UK complicity in torture and ill-treatment of detainees held overseas.
The “Detainee Inquiry”, to be chaired by Sir Peter Gibson, is expected to begin its work in the next two months. Last month Amnesty International and eight other organisations made a detailed submission to the inquiry calling on Sir Peter, amongst other things, to ensure that the inquiry has powers to compel the disclosure of evidence and the testimony of relevant witnesses.
The submission emphasised that the inquiry should be fully compliant with international human rights standards relating to Article 3 (torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The inquiry has indicated that it does not feel obliged to meet this standard, sparking concern among human rights organisations and alleged torture victims over the likely quality of the inquiry.