UK PM announces investigation into alleged renditions to Libya

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] on Monday gave a speech [text] on the situation in Libya [JURIST backgrounder], announcing an investigation into collusion between MI6 [official website], the overseas British Security Service, and the Libyan Security Services regarding the treatment of former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees. Accusations of M16 sending detainees to knowingly be tortured by Libyan security services prompted Cameron to instruct the Detainee Inquiry [official website], created last July [JURIST report] to examine the issue.

Our relationship with the new Libya must of course deal with a series of problems from the past...[S]ignificant accusations have been reported today that under the last government relations between the British and Libyan Security Services became too close, particularly in 2003. It was because of accusations of complicity by the British Security Services in the mistreatment of detainees overseas, including rendition, that I took steps last July to sort this whole problem out. As the House will remember we took steps to bring to an end the large number of court cases being brought against the government by former inmates of Guantanamo. We have issued new guidance to security service personnel on how to deal with detainees held by other countries. And we have asked Sir Peter Gibson to examine issues around the detention and treatment of terrorist suspects overseas and the Inquiry has already said it will look at these latest accusation very carefully. My concern throughout has been to deal with these accusations of malpractice so as to enable the Security Services to get on with the vital work they do.
Papers tying M16 and the CIA to Libya [BBC report] were discovered when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] compound was raided last month. The Detainee Inquiry released a statement [text] confirming the investigation. Cameron also spoke on continuing to support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] effort in Libya and aiding the new Libyan government.

Last month, The Guardian [media website] released a top secret document [JURIST report] revealing details about the interrogation policies of UK intelligence officials. The document indicated that officers from the UK security and secret intelligence agencies, MI5 [official website], and MI6, respectively, were instructed to weigh the severity of the mistreatment of a detainee with the benefits of possibly obtaining information from the prisoner. The agencies "do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment," the document said, though the agencies would "consider applying caveats or seeking prior assurances" if they foresee a risk of possibly mistreating or torturing a detainee. In November, the UK government announced a settlement [JURIST report] with 16 Guantanamo Bay detainees over allegations of torture. In return, the 16 detainees, 12 of whom had filed suit and four of whom were planning to, agreed to drop a lawsuit [JURIST report] against MI5 and M16. The government issued a new set of regulations regarding the use of information obtained via torture in July 2010 shortly after the human rights group Reprieve [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking a review of the country's torture policy.

 

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