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. “

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities