The Government has announced that it will not hold an independent, judge-led inquiry into the UK’s alleged involvement in torture since 9/11, contrary to UN recommendations.
Cabinet Office minister David Lidington today (18 July 2019) told the House of Commons that the Government had “no legal obligation” or “policy reason” to hold such an inquiry.
“I can confirm today that the Government has established that it is not necessary to establish a further inquiry,” he said. “There is no policy reason to do so given the extensive work already undertaken to improve policies and practices in this area. The Government’s position is that there is also no legal obligation.”
He added that torture allegations have been the subject of a number of police investigations over the years. “None of these police investigations has resulted in further action although some of these enquiries are continuing,” he said.
The news comes after the UN’s Committee Against Torture in May renewed its calls for an independent inquiry after two reports by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) found 19 allegations that UK personnel committed acts of torture.
Also among the findings were two instances where UK personnel “directly engaged in the mistreatment of a detainee by others”, as well as 198 instances where UK officers received intelligence from prisoners they knew were being mistreated.
“The Government does not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” Lidington told the House of Commons chamber. “It would be against everything we stand as a nation of terms of promotion of human rights and protection of human dignity.”
He added: “Lessons have been learned from these challenging events and from the various independent examinations of detainee issues that have taken place over the past 15 years or so.”
On Monday (15 July 2019), Tory stalwart and life-long civil liberties campaigner David Davis told Lidington he would seek legal advice as to whether the Government has breached human rights laws if it does not pursue an inquiry.
Today I gave @DLidington notice that if the Government does not establish an independent judge-led inquiry into the UK’s complicity in rendition and torture, I will seek legal advice on whether it is in breach of human rights law. pic.twitter.com/MnQVBJJn8q
— David Davis (@DavidDavisMP) July 15, 2019
He said that the UK had come “perilously close” to breaching Article 3 of the Convention of Human Rights, which “forbids torture but also its facilitation or complicity in it”.
“Without an independent judge-led inquiry, the Government may now be in breach of another Article: Article 13, which, as well as centuries of established common law, provides for the right to an effective remedy,” he added.
- UK Government Must Hold Judge-Led Inquiry Into Alleged Torture, UN Committee Says.
- Take a look at our infographic poster on freedom from torture.
- See our other resources on torture and human rights.