Reprieve welcomes Foreign Secretary William Hague’s announcement of a torture inquiry

May 21, 2010

William Hague has announced that an inquiry should be held into the allegations of British complicity in rendition and torture. This is timely and welcome, reflecting what should be a high priority for the coalition government.

Britain’s involvement in these illegal acts has tarnished the nation’s reputation around the world, and made British people considerably less safe than they would otherwise have been. As Mr Hague has made clear, “it is vital to remember that torture does not help us defeat terrorists; it helps them to try to justify their hostility to us.”

Reprieve calls for an inquiry that is open in all ways possible – secrecy will not cure the taint. The inquiry should be fully impartial, run by those beholden to nobody implicated in the process. The inquiry should provide criminal immunity to those who testify, in order to ensure that the truth should become known. The ultimate goal must be to put in place procedures that will prevent similar horrors in the future.

Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith said: “We cannot learn from history if we do not know what that history is. The previous government made such a concerted effort to cover up the truth that a full and open inquiry is vital to Britain’s credibility. Only when the truth is known can we put in place the kinds of rules that will deter a future government, in crisis, from abandoning our core principles.

“We do not call for retribution, or the opportunity to abuse the abusers. A truth and reconciliation process is more sensible if we want to get to the facts. It is also more consistent with our principles.”

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099/ 07931592674.

Notes for Editors:Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve has represented, and continues to represent, a large number of prisoners who have been rendered and abused around the world, and is conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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