British involvement in torture – Jack Straw obfuscates again


On Sunday we posted extracts from a report from the Foreign Affairs Committee describing concern that:

some British personnel have committed grave violations of human rights of persons held in detention

It also states that current British policy acts:

to condone and even to encourage torture by repressive states

and concludes that:

the Government has failed to deal with questions about extraordinary rendition with the transparency and accountability required on so serious an issue“.

So the urgent question arises as to how Jack Straw and others in government have responded to the FAC report and what is the current status of policy relating to these issues?

Jack Straw replied officially to the FAC reports accusation of “obfuscation” in June. Just for the record I ran a Google definition search for obfuscation which came up with the following “To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand“. No small charge! Water of a ducks back apparently as the official reply to the charge is a prime example of clarity obstruction, leaving holes large enough for any eventuality. The FAC accusation and Straw’s reply in full.

The FAC said:

“14. We conclude that the Government has failed to deal with questions about extraordinary rendition with the transparency and accountability required on so serious an issue. If the government believes that extraordinary rendition is a valid tool in the war against terrorism, it should say so openly and transparently so that it may be held accountable. We recommend that the Government end its policy of obfuscation and that it give straight answers to the Committee’s question of 25 February.”

Jack Straw says:

“The Government’s response to the Committee’s question of 25 February did give a clear explanation of its policy towards rendition. The Government explained that its “… policy is not to deport or extradite any person to another state where there are substantial grounds to believe that the person will be subject to torture or where there is a real risk that the death penalty will be applied… The British Government is not aware of the use of its territory or airspace for the purposes of ‘extraordinary rendition’. The British Government has not received any requests, nor granted any permissions, for the use of UK territory or airspace for these purposes…” The Government has also explained that it is not in a position to respond to all of the questions posed by the Committee without reference to information Parliament has decided is a matter for the Intelligence and Security Committee”.

The last sentence with bold added makes it all too clear that we have not been given the full story and nor will we be if Mr Straw can help it.

Today we post an article from back in October 2004 entitled Spies “lap up” info from torture, reminding us just how far this government has taken us into what Amnesty International has referred to as a “creeping acceptance of the practice of torture”

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