UK: Government human rights report - tough words on torture but UK still accepts torture evidence

The UK government’s failure to fully incorporate the UN Convention Against Torture into UK law has left the door open for UK authorities to rely on evidence obtained through torture by foreign agents, says the organisation.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Stephen Bowen said:

“The UK government quite rightly condemns Abu Ghraib as ‘Shameful’ in this report and states its opposition to torture ‘under all circumstances’.

“What a shame it didn’t take a similar stance earlier this year, when the UK gave the green light to torture by making torture evidence admissible in the UK. Instead we witnessed the sorry sight of the UK government arguing against the barring of evidence extracted under torture.”

The human rights organisation also noted the report’s criticism of the unlawful detentions and military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. But the organisation again criticised the UK for failing to speak out earlier against the widespread undermining of human rights by countries around the world in the name of the ‘War on Terror’.

Stephen Bowen said:

“In recent years human rights have been eroded around the world in the name of the ‘War on Terror’. Yet still the international community remains silent.

“Some countries have seen the threat of terrorism as a ‘blank cheque’ to imprison their opponents and ignore international law. It’s vital that the UK and other countries speak out against this or it will never be stopped.”

Amnesty International welcomed the publication of the annual report after some delay, and highlighted its importance as a way of ensuring accountability in what is the increasingly high-profile area of human rights.

Stephen Bowen said:

“It’s essential that the UK government produces such a report, to allow parliament and public to scrutinise its performance on human rights.

“The report looks forward to progress next year on key human rights issues, and with the UK taking leadership of both the EU and G8, we look forward to the UK pushing for positive change – not least in the adoption of an Arms Treaty to control the sale of weapons around the world.”

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