Government told to renegotiate with US over use of Diego Garcia for rendition flights

 

Britain must renegotiate the deal which allows a key American military base on Diego Garcia to demand that any use of the Indian Ocean island for “extraordinary rendition” can only take place with London’s prior approval, MPs warn today.

A report by the influential House of Commons foreign affairs select committee said the revelation in 2008 that the US airbase had been used for two flights carrying detainees in 2002 - contradicting previous denials from London - had “dented public confidence” in Britain’s ability to oversee its sovereign territory.

The investigation found that despite an Anglo-American deal signed in 1966 laying out the rules for use of Diego Garcia, part of the British-controlled Chagos Islands, there was no “clear requirement” on Washington to seek UK permission for highly sensitive activity including rendition or combat operations and the arrangements in place are “entirely informal”.

MPs now want the Government to use a two-year window before the 1966 lease agreement is due to be extended in 2016 for another 20 years to revise the text to include a new clause requiring express permission from London for any “extraordinary use” of the base.

Sir Richard Ottaway, the committee’s Conservative chairman, said: “This is about building confidence. The Government relied on US assurances on its use of Diego Garcia, and in 2008 these proved to be inaccurate. That severely damaged credibility. The British public is entitled to know that the UK is able to exercise control over its sovereign territory and what happens there.”

London ceded use of Diego Garcia, the largest island in the British Indian Ocean Territory, to Washington 48 years ago and in 1973 ordered the archipelago to be cleared of its civilian population. The Chagossians have been fighting ever since to be allowed to return and right what campaigners say is one of the most egregious wrongs of British colonial rule.

Whilst Foreign Secretary in 2006, Jack Straw insisted that Diego Garcia had never been used for “extraordinary rendition”, the post-9/11 practice of transporting terrorism suspects between different countries, in some cases to regimes where torture is legal.

But his successor David Miliband apologised to MPs in 2008 after it emerged that two US flights, each carrying a single detainee, had refuelled in Diego Garcia in 2002.

The committee said its investigation had found that despite clear provisions in the 1966 agreement and subsequent revisions for issues from customs duties to the conservation of plants, there were no unequivocal requirements for the US to seek British permission to use Diego Garcia for combat operations or rendition.

The MPs said: “This seems to us to be an unsatisfactory gap in the UK’s formal oversight of the use of Diego Garcia by the US for defence purposes.”

The Foreign Office has said it expects to being “substantive discussions” with Washington on the extension of the lease on the island later this year. But it is unclear whether diplomats intend to raise the issue of safeguards on rendition.

The MPs also referred to reports earlier this year that a US Senate investigation had found the British Government offered “full cooperation” to the CIA in its desire to set up a so-called “black jail” on the Indian Ocean territory after 2001.

The committee said “we would expect to revisit this issue” if the US authorities decide to declassify part of their investigation into CIA activities and the reports are substantiated.

An FCO spokeswoman said: “The US understands and respect our position on their use of Diego Garcia. Following the disclosures of 2008, we tightened up procedures both for oversight on island of US operations, as well as seeking regular political reassurance from the US Government. “

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
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

Recruitment Genius: Modern Apprenticeship Assessor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Telesales Executive - Cloud Software/SaaS - £37,000 OTE

£25000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you seeking to furth...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Welding, Power Tools and PPE - £45,000 OTE

£25000 - £45000 per annum + car + benefit: h2 Recruit Ltd: A fantastic and uni...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game