UK 'must retain all allies' to combat terror
Britain must continue to work with international intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorism even if they do not share UK standards on human rights, the Foreign Office warned today.
In its annual report on human rights around the world, the Foreign Office said the UK could not afford the "luxury" of co-operating only with agencies in countries which did not abuse or torture detainees.
It said British agencies tried to minimise the risk that detainees held overseas were mistreated when they were involved in operations, but it was not always possible to "reduce the risk to zero".
The report said that ultimately it was for ministers to decide whether the needs of national security outweighed the concerns of possible mistreatment.
It follows a number of high profile court cases - most notably by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed - claiming MI5 officers had been complicit in their mistreatment at the hands of foreign agencies, including those of the US and Pakistan.
One MI5 officer is currently facing a criminal investigation by Scotland Yard.
The report said that while the UK had put in place measures to ensure detainees held in its custody were not subjected to torture or abuse, it could not always have the same level of assurance when they were held abroad.
"We cannot get all the intelligence we need from our own sources because the terrorist groups we face are scattered around the world and our resources are finite. So we must work with intelligence and security agencies overseas," it said.
"Some of them share our standards and laws while others do not. But we cannot afford the luxury of only dealing with those that do. The intelligence we get from others saves British lives."
It stressed that ministers took their responsibility to balance national security interests with human rights concerns "very seriously".
"If the risk of mistreatment is too high then we will not go ahead with an operation. This is not just a theoretical possibility - operations have been stopped because the risk of mistreatment was judged to be too high," it said.
"But this is never an easy judgment and we would be failing in our twin duties to defend the country and to uphold human rights if we pretended that there was never a tension between the two."
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 3 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 4 Motorists taunt suicidal woman on bridge and tell her to 'get on with it'
- 5 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...