UK

Shameful past continues to haunt UK

Shameful past continues to haunt UK - Serious allegations of rendition, kidnap and torture were also laid at Britain's door

Why has the British Government let a deadline slip by into an inquiry on torture, abuse and human rights?

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Britain is really sloppy these days in producing reports and meeting deadlines especially over really serious issues like torture, abuse and human rights.

The UK Government launched an inquiry into human rights abuses during the War on Terror years. The war launched by US President George W. Bush after the horrific events of 9/11 saw numerous torture cases emerge around the globe under dark forces within the CIA.

Serious allegations of rendition, kidnap and torture were also laid at Britain’s door and Alan Duncan, minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, promised MPs that the government would decide within 60 days whether or not to run a judge-led inquiry.

That deadline has passed and we are still no further forward to an independent inquiry. Obviously something is seriously wrong and all allegations should be investigated. Millions of pounds in UK taxpayers money has already been shelled out to those once held captive, kidnapped and renditioned by the US.

Earlier this year Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhadj and his wife Fatim ah Boudchar received an unprecedented apology from the UK Government for its part in their rendition and torture back in 2004.

Of course the apology was necessary after top secret documents emerged from the rubble of Colonel Gaddafi’s bombed out intelligence headquarters that revealed in detail how UK intelligence officials had tipped off the Libyan government as to their whereabouts.

Several years earlier another leading dissident Sami al-Saadi received £2.2 million after he and his family were forcibly transferred to Gaddafi’s Libya in 2004. The family launched a legal action against the UK, in which they were arguing MI6 was instrumental in their kidnap.

All of the ex-Guantanamo detainees who returned to the UK were also compensated although the government handed over money on the understanding it was not admitting any liability.

I understand there are more potentially expensive claims in the pipeline from others who say they have been wronged by British intelligence.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The government is carefully considering the intelligence and security committee’s reports into detainee mistreatment and rendition issues and will respond formally in due course. Consideration will also be given to the separate calls for another judge-led inquiry.”

Surely 60 days is enough time for “careful consideration”? The government can only prolong the inevitable for so long. If it doesn’t act soon and investigate the abuses and allegations of torture, then the likelihood is that the international criminal court (ICC) will intervene.

It’s time for Britain to bite the bullet and get this shameful episode of history out in to the open. As US President Barak Obama said in a speech in 2009: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Mind you shortly after he said that he decided against opening up the CIA files which would reveal the entire catalogue of abuse! Let’s hope the British Government at least makes an attempt to get an inquiry underway.


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