Until the extent of government manipulation in security issues is clear, we should mistrust Blair
By Philippe Sands in The Observer
The concept of extraordinary rendition does not have a clear meaning in international law. It is not referred to in any treaty or international instrument of which I am aware. It has come to be understood as referring to the practice of forcibly transporting a person, usually alleged to be involved in terrorism, from one country to another without relying on the normal legal processes for the purposes of subjecting them to interrogation and other forms of treatment that include torture or cruel and degrading treatment.
Both elements – the forcible transportation outside of due process, characterised by Lord Steyn as ‘kidnapping’ in his Attlee Foundation lecture, and the invasive forms of interrogation – raise the most serious issues under international law.
Earlier this year, there were reports of a leaked memo from the Foreign Office to Number 10, revealing concern that Britain may have approved requests from the United States to permit extraordinary renditions. This is the background against which to assess Tony Blair’s protestations of his commitment to fundamental rights and the rule of law, reflected in his email debate with Henry Porter in The Observer last month.