Rights group calls on UK to investigate Pakistan torture allegations

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Tuesday called for the UK to investigate allegations that government officials were complicit in the torture of British citizens in Pakistan from 2004 to 2007. The announcement followed the release of a report [text, PDF] alleges that Pakistani security agents tortured prisoners and then transferred them to British government officials for questioning. HRW concedes that there is no evidence that the officials were directly involved in the torture, but the report states:


[I]t is inconceivable that the UK government was unaware of the systematic use of torture in Pakistan. In the circumstances of the close security relationship between the two countries this would represent a significant failure of British intelligence...UK officials engaged in acts that virtually required that they knew about the use of torture in specific cases. Four men...have described meeting British officials while detained in Pakistan. In some cases this happened shortly after sessions in which the individuals had been tortured, when it was likely that clear and visible signs of torture were present. Further, UK officials supplied questions and lines of enquiry to Pakistan intelligence sources in cases in which detainees were tortured. UK officials knew that interrogations of these UK citizens were taking place and that torture was routinely used in interrogations. The UK was also putting pressure on Pakistani authorities for results. [sic]

British Foreign Office [official website] officials have denied the report, saying [Al Jazeera report] that the government rejects even the suggestion of complicity in torture.

The report comes amid increasing demand [JURIST report] for investigations into UK involvement in torture and rendition. The movement for greater transparency was set back last week when the British High Court ruled [JURIST report] that the government could keep some evidence secret in civil suits alleging torture. UK officials expressed concern that release of the information would pose a risk to national security and foreign relations with the US.

 

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