UK counter-terrorism: Some rules have not changed, says Amnesty

The organisation also reiterated its opposition to “Diplomatic Assurances” which would enable the UK to deport people to countries known to use torture.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Some rules have not changed. Torture is wrong, and always will be. Justice and the rule of law remain fundamental values at the very heart of our society.

“It is at times such as these when our resolve and our values are tested. But we must not sacrifice our freedoms in response to terrorist attacks.

“The UK Government must do its utmost to prevent any repeat of the recent London bombings, and to bring those responsible to justice. But going soft on torture is not the answer to terrorism.

“Britain should not turn a blind eye to torture, wherever it occurs. The assurances of known torturers cannot be trusted and we have seen no indication of any monitoring to ensure that these promises are honoured. Only this week, Amnesty released a report on two men who were tortured by agents from Jordan – the only country with which the UK has agreed such an assurance.”

Yesterday (4 August) Amnesty International published a new report in which two Yemeni men allege that they were tortured for four days in Jordan. Alleged methods of torture included heavy beatings, including on the soles of the feet with sticks (a torture known as falaqa) while suspended upside down with hands and feet tied. One man reported being threatened with sexual abuse and electro-shock torture.

The Prime Minister also named Algeria and Lebanon as countries with which the UK has had constructive dialogue concerning diplomatic assurances to enable deportation. Amnesty International has documented the widespread use of torture in these countries.

Lebanon

  • Scores of political and ‘terror’ arrests
  • Reports of torture and death in custody
  • In Sept 2004 Isma’il al-Khatib, died in custody after more than 10 days’ incommunicado detention at a secret location. Following his arrest (along with dozens of Sunni Islamist activists) he was described by the authorities as the leader of an al-Qa’ida network in the country. An official medical report stated that he died of a heart attack and that he had suffered, among other things, difficulty in breathing, swollen feet and liver problems. The report was repudiated by the family, including his sister who had been detained with him and said she heard him screaming in pain. Photographs taken of Isma’il al-Khatib after his death showed serious wounds on his body

Algeria

  • Allegations of torture, particularly in cases involving what the government calls “terrorist” activities
  • A state of emergency remains in place (imposed 1992)
  • Tens of thousands of cases of killings, abductions, “disappearances” and torture committed by the security forces during recent years remain uninvestigated

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