Scotland Yard accused of being complicit in torture for failing to investigate UK’s role in alleged war crimes

 

Scotland Yard has been accused of being complicit in torture for failing to investigate the UK’s role in alleged war crimes.

In a letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, seen by The Independent, the force has been warned that it faces legal action for refusing to examine the part British officials played in the rendition of two men captured in Iraq.

Leigh Day, the legal firm representing Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, who have both been held at Bagram Airbase without charge for more than seven years, has written to advise that they are seeking to take a Judicial Review to challenge the Met’s decision not to investigate “complaints against British officials for aiding and abetting the unlawful rendition and torture”.

The revelations come at a time of increasing international pressure for the US and the UK to open up to scrutiny on the issue of rendition. This week UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson, in a speech before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, demanded the Government publish interim findings of the Gibson Inquiry into whether MI5 and MI6 aided and abetted the rendition and ill-treatment of terrorism suspects.

Both Mr Rahmatullah, 30, and Mr Ali were arrested by British forces in Baghdad in 2004 before being handed over to the Americans. Almost a decade later they remain captive, a situation which Mr Rahmatullah’s family insist has left him in “catastrophic mental and physical shape”.

Last year the Supreme Court ruled that forcible transfer of Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to Afghanistan by US forces appeared, at least on a prima facie basis, to be a breach of the Geneva Convention. It agreed the UK Government was unable to enforce his return.

But Lord Kerr added: “In these circumstances the UK Government was under a clear obligation, on becoming aware of any failure on the part of the US to comply with any provisions of the (Geneva Convention), to correct the situation or to request the return of Mr Rahmatullah.”

Yet despite requests that the UK’s involvement should be inspected, the Metropolitan Police has refused to do so, explained Kat Craig, legal director of the human rights charity Reprieve, which is supporting the case.

“It is the Met police’s job to investigate allegations of war crimes.  The highest court in the land has already said that there is evidence of British officials’ involvement in war crimes related to the on-going detention without charge or trial of Yunus and Amanatullah, who languish in prison to this day.

“So why isn’t the Met investigating? Their failure to do so protects the UK officials involved and makes the Met complicit in the torture and possible war crimes at the centre of this disgraceful affair,” she said.

In its letter to Mr Hogan-Howe, Leigh Day insists that the Metropolitan Police – as the UK;’s force with the responsibility for investigating war crimes - has a duty to examine the role of UK officials in failing to object to the men’s unlawful transfer or take corrective steps. War crimes have universal jurisdiction, whatever the person’s nationality or whether the crime was committed within the UK or not.

However, responding to the accusation Andrew Fairbrother, of the Met’s Directorate of Legal Services, insisted the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis would defend any claim for judicial review.

In a letter in response, Mr Fairbrother pointed out that neither Pakistani men were citizens of the UK, they had been captured in an area controlled by the Americans and handed over to the US under an agreed Memorandum of Understanding. Any alleged breaches of the Geneva Convention were by the US, he added, and that the UK’s failure to comply with its obligation to seek Mr Rahmatullah’s return was under international law and therefore the question of a UK breach did not arise.

Mr Fairbrother continued that, in the Metropolitan Police’s view, there was not “sufficient legal or factual basis on which to commence a criminal investigation”.

There was no duty placed on the force to examine such allegations abroad, he said, adding: “The MPS has not abdicated any of its responsibility…the MPS has expended a very significant amount of resources – both human and financial – on investigating allegations of this nature.”

The threatened judicial review came in the same week that the British barrister Ben Emmerson QC, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, demanded that the UK publish the interim findings of the report by Sir Peter Gibson into whether its security and intelligence agencies had been implicated in the improper treatment of detainees in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks.

He said it was time to end years of “official denials, sophistry and prevarications,” adding; “Holding those responsible to account is now the only way of genuinely drawing a line under the past.”

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - South Es...

NQT Secondary Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

A Level Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering