Statewatch article: RefNo# 27093
UK: Government “colludes” with US in rendition and torture
Statewatch Bulletin; vol 16 no 1 January-February 2006
Two reports, published in February, confirmed the UK's central role in the illegal practice of “rendering” (ie. kidnapping) individuals for the purpose of imprisonment and torture to third countries. On March 28 BBC television's Newsnight programme highlighted documents disclosed at the High Court which revealed the extent of the government's collusion with their US allies in its practice of rendition in the cases of Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna in 2002. Also in March, the CagePrisoners website published a damning report, Fabricating Terrorism: British Complicity in Renditions and Terror, which examines cases in which the government has aided and abetted the US to deprive British citizens and residents of their freedom. While the revelations will come as little surprise to anyone who has followed the rendition scandal, the evidence totally contradicts the government's defence of ignorance and Tony Blair's "certain knowledge" that the Guantanamo detainees are "bad men".

CagePrisoners was formed in October 2003 as a human rights organisation committed to raising awareness of the plight of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners and other victims of the war on terror detained in separate secret facilities. The civil liberties lawyer, Geoffrey Bindman, describes the new rules of the US game that Tony Blair has signed up to in the introduction to Fabricating Terrorism:

The Bush administration has thrown overboard nearly a thousand years of history by introducing a new concept of pre-emptive action, which in the name of countering terrorism justifies detention, torture and bombing on the basis of guesswork about what could happen, abandoning the need for evidence or fair legal process.

The Fabricating Terrorism report begins with a section on rendition, extradition, torture and international law in which it argues that rendition has substituted for extradition agreements. It discusses the association between rendition and torture and outlines the relevant international law and attempts to bypass or unilaterally redefine them. Section 2 covers the report's findings. These are:

- Systematic violations of international law perpetrated by the British authorities relating to i) illegal rendition flights using British airspace and airport facilities, ii) the role of the intelligence services in gaining information knowingly obtained by torture which forms the basis for the detention, abuse and torture of detainees

- The British government has abrogated its responsibility towards its citizens and residents affording them no or minimal protection against the illegal actions of foreign governments

- Senior members of the government and other state agencies have misled Parliament, Parliamentary committees and the public over the government's role in rendition and torture.

Section 3 of the report tackles the consequences of British complicity in the US policy of rendition and torture. It reaches the following conclusions:

- Britain's involvement in the US policy "tarnishes" its reputation as a supporter of human rights worldwide (the report cites as examples the Craig Murray accounts from Uzbekistan and MI6 involvement in the Greek detention and abuse of Pakistani citizens).

- Accepting evidence obtained from torture undermines "Britain's policy of returning suspects to countries of origin through the international non-torture agreements...and also Memorandum of Understanding which have been signed by countries such as Libya and Jordan."

- The role of MI5 and MI6 is also called into question: i) by supplying questionable or false evidence leading to kidnapping, illegal detention and torture, b) by using intelligence obtained from torture, and c) by maintaining a presence at interrogations where torture has been known to be used. All of these practices are illegal under international law.

The report highlights case studies where "the British authorities have expressly been in

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions oof that licence and to local copyright law. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.