UK military may have used banned interrogation tactics in Iraq: rights panel

[JURIST] The armed forces of the United Kingdom may have used officially-banned tactics to interrogate detainees in Iraq, according to a report [text] released Sunday by Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights [official website]. In previous testimony before the committee, top defense officials had denied the use of "wall standing, hooding, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and drink," all of which were prohibited by the UK government in 1972, but recent evidence discovered during an investigation of the Baha Mousa [BBC report; JURIST news archive] case indicated that those techniques may still be in use. The committee called for an investigation into allegations that former Minister of State for the Armed Forces Adam Ingram and Lt. Gen. Robin Brims [profiles] may have lied to the committee:

The evidence we received from Lieutenant General Brims and Mr Ingram formed the basis for the section of our Report on the UN Convention Against Torture dealing with interrogation techniques. It would appear that this evidence was incorrect and that, as a result, we were unable to give a full account to Parliament of the human rights issues relating to the use of such techniques.

We have yet to receive an explanation from the Ministry of Defence for the discrepancies between the evidence given to the Joint Committee in 2004 and 2006 on the use of prohibited conditioning techniques and the facts which have emerged from the Payne court martial and the Aitken report. The issues relating to the death of Baha Mousa are now the subject of a public inquiry. We recommend that, in response to this Report, the Secretary of State for Defence should confirm we will receive a detailed explanation of the discrepancies between the evidence to the Committee by Mr Ingram in 2004 and Lieutenant General Brims in 2006 and the facts which have subsequently emerged concerning the death of Baha Mousa, as soon as possible after the conclusion of the public inquiry.
AP has more.

The torture allegations relate to the case of nine Iraqi men who say they were tortured while detained by British troops [JURIST report] in Basra in 2003. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) [official website] reached a settlement [JURIST report] with the men earlier this month, agreeing to pay £2.83 million in compensation, as well as issue an apology and an admission of liability. The family of Baha Mousa, a tenth man who died in custody, was also included in the settlement. Seven soldiers faced court-martial [BBC timeline] in connection with Mousa's death. Of the seven soldiers charged, only one, Corporal David Payne, faced jail time after pleading guilty [JURIST reports] to a charge of inhumane treatment. All other charges were dismissed [JURIST report]. In August 2007, lawyers for the Iraqi plaintiffs accused the Ministry of Defence of withholding evidence [JURIST report]. In March, UK Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne [official profile] admitted that British soldiers had violated the human rights [JURIST report] of the Basra detainees, saying that the MOD would specifically admit to substantive breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text].


 

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