Britain's role in CIA torture - only a judge-led inquiry will do

Posted by Bella Sankey on 15 December 2014

Last week the extent and brutality of CIA kidnap and torture was revealed. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, having been heavily redacted, contains no details of the UK’s involvement in CIA practises. America now knows the truth, whereas we on the other side of the ‘special relationship’ remain in the dark.

Liberty first called for an independent inquiry into the UK’s involvement in 2005. We are still waiting almost a decade later.

Responding to the CIA report, the Prime Minister said: “In Britain we have had the Gibson Inquiry and that inquiry has now produced a series of questions that the Intelligence and Security Committee will look at but I am satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues.” But in 2010 David Cameron said “I do not think for a moment that we should believe that the ISC should be doing this piece of work. For public confidence, and for independence from parliament, party and government, it is right to have a judge-led inquiry.”

Leaving aside all of the rhetoric, the Gibson Inquiry was flawed; a secret internal review with the Government in control. The ISC lacks the independence and power to investigate fully; the very same committee wrongfully reported that there was no evidence of UK involvement in extraordinary rendition back in 2007. We now know, however, that our forces handed over individuals in Iraq to US authorities, who then illegally rendered them to Afghanistan and held them in inhuman conditions. In short, the system by which we are “dealing with all of these issues” is unacceptable. We know that the UK was complicit in kidnapping and torture, but we do not know to what extent – and nobody has been held to account.

Only a judicial inquiry will have the required level of independence and transparency by which the Prime Minister can begin to restore the UK’s reputation for respect for human rights and the rule of law. Until our Government establishes a proper investigation, cover-up and official impunity will persist. Victims deserve their day in court and the British public deserve better. There can be no compromise with torture.

Campaign reference: 

Counter-extremism