Site Meter

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Flaws in guidance on detainees abroad

Flaws in guidance on detainees abroad

The Guardian, Letters, Saturday 2 April 2011

The response of the Home office to the Guardian's inquiries about Omar Awadh Omar highlights the serious flaws in the UK's "consolidated guidance" on detaining and interviewing detainees overseas (Challenge to Cameron over torture claims, 1 April). Omar reported that he was interrogated by MI5 while in Ugandan custody, where he was allegedly tortured. Amnesty has so far been refused access to visit him in prison in Uganda to verify his claims.

The ambiguity of the UK guidance allows government ministers to authorise intelligence officers to question detainees, even where there is a risk that they have been, or will be, tortured. It is left to the minister's "discretion". But torture is not permissible under any circumstances – there should be no ambiguity. The guidance also codifies the UK's continuing reliance on assurances that detainees will not be tortured. These assurances, from governments known to authorise torture, are not reliable and cannot provide adequate protection from torture or other ill-treatment.

Amnesty has written twice to the UK government to formally raise these concerns, but still awaits a satisfactory response. There is a pressing need to strengthen the consolidated guidance to ensure that the mistakes of the past do not continue to be repeated.

Kate Allen

Director, Amnesty International UK

No comments: