Scotland: Westminster Committee agrees – we should be investigating rendition in the UK

Amnesty International today welcomes the report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) calling on the government to investigate allegations of extraordinary rendition flights through UK airports.

The JCHR has called on the Westminster government to “take active steps to ascertain more details about the flights which it is now know used UK airports, including, in relation to each flight, who was on them, and their precise itinerary and the purpose of their journey.”(1)

It goes on to say: “If evidence of extraordinary renditions come to light from such investigations, the Government should report such evidence promptly to Parliament.”

The Scottish Executive is responsible under the terms of the Scotland Act for investigating and prosecuting acts of torture. We therefore call on the Scottish Executive, as the government of Scotland, to institute their own inquiry along the lines suggested by the JCHR.

Amnesty International’s Programme Director for Scotland, Rosemary Burnett said:

“It is now accepted that the current law creates no barrier to such an investigation in Scotland. There is a high level of public support and a growing political consensus in the Scottish Parliament for such an investigation.”

“The time for excuses has passed. We need action now to ensure that Scotland has torture-free skies.”

Both Amnesty International and the Council of Europe have conducted their own investigations and found clear evidence to establish that individuals were being abducted, detained and transported within Europe and handed over to countries where they faced torture.

Amnesty wrote to the First Minister Jack McConnell on 19 January 2006 urging the Scottish Executive to launch an immediate, thorough and independent investigation. No reply has been received to date.

On 5 April 2006 Amnesty issued a 41-page report, Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and ‘disappearance’ . The report traced the movements of four planes from the CIA’s much larger fleet of at least 26 aircraft. These four planes, known to have rendered prisoners to illegal detention and torture, have landed and taken off at numerous airports in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK in the past five years - including Glasgow International, Glasgow Prestwick, Edinburgh, and Leuchars. (2)

Amnesty International is continuing its campaigning on this issue and will be publishing a further report on rendition in June.

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