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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'