Reprieve welcomes new Foreign Office guidance; calls for swift action to prevent British nationals being tortured on arrest

March 22, 2011

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has today published new guidance on reporting the torture of detainees abroad. Reprieve is concerned that urgent action is also a priority for the FCO.

Too often, Reprieve clients are tortured on arrest — frequently resulting in the extraction of false confessions which can lead to the death penalty. This is particularly common in countries like Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo where police torture is rife.

It is therefore crucial that the FCO ensures that consular officials are immediately informed when a British national is arrested; that they respond with an urgent prison visit; and that they do not allow police or prison officials to turn them away.

Reprieve lawyer Marc Callcutt, head of the Pakistan Police Torture Project, said:

“For many vulnerable British prisoners abroad, the FCO is the only protection against their abusers. Simply reporting the torture is not enough. Immediate action may stop a false confession being tortured out of a terrified prisoner – and thus avert the death penalty. This guidance on reporting is important, but we also need a commitment to immediate and decisive action to protect British nationals arrested abroad.”

For more information please contact Reprieve’s Press Office

Notes for Editors:

About Reprieve:

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 27 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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