Watchdog calls for torture 'collusion' probe

The UK's human rights watchdog has joined calls for an independent inquiry of claims that the security services were complicit in the torture of more than 20 British terror suspects.





Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) chairman Trevor Phillips told ministers their vehement denials of the claims had been insufficient to reassure the watchdog or the public.



In a letter to Justice Secretary Jack Straw, he said the Government "needs urgently to put in place a review process to assess the truth or otherwise of all these allegations".



They include claims from Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee, who says he was tortured in Pakistan while held by the CIA, with the knowledge of the British.



Last week his "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment by US authorities was revealed after Foreign Secretary David Miliband lost a bid to block the disclosure.



The EHRC has stepped in after a series of reports - including one by the United Nations - detailed alleged cases of collusion as well as the release of the court evidence in the Mohamed case.



In his letter, copied to Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Home Secretary Alan Johnson, Mr Phillips said it would be "inexplicable" for the EHRC to ignore the mounting allegations.



"The Government has stated unequivocally that the allegations are unsubstantiated and that it does not condone or support torture carried out by foreign agencies," he wrote.



"However, the commission does not believe that the Government's response to these allegations is sufficient in itself and believes that not enough has been done to reassure the commission and the public that these allegations are unfounded.



"In the opinion of the commission, the UK government needs urgently to put in place a review process to assess the truth or otherwise of all these allegations."



Any inquiry, he said, should be independently appointed, given "complete access" to relevant materials and held in public wherever that would not pose a "real and substantial" risk to national security.



Another allegation of British complicity in torture comes from last British resident in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, who accused British intelligence officers of being present and doing nothing to help him when he suffered torture in US custody at Bagram airport in Afghanistan.



Yesterday the High Court was told that his claims are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.



Other cases include those of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, who alleges British intelligence agents were present when he was abused in Afghanistan by US security services.



Two influential Commons committees have backed an inquiry after raising serious questions about the UK's involvement and suggesting the Government could be in breach of international obligations.



But ministers have been strident in their defence of MI5, dismissing the UN report as "unsubstantiated and irresponsible" and rejecting the need for an outside review.



Mr Phillips also pointed to a recent report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organisation which said a five-year study had found "credible" evidence that UK intelligence was aware of abuse.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn