UK Government defends new system to suppress torture allegations

November 16, 2011

Foreign Secretary William Hague is today expected to defend proposals by the UK Government, set out in the Justice and Security Green Paper, which would increase the use of secret proceedings in British courts, and close off the legal route by which evidence of British complicity in torture first came to light.Commenting, Reprieve’s Executive Director, Clare Algar said:“William Hague once warned that ‘we cannot bury our heads in the sand’ and hope allegations of torture will go away. But sadly, this is exactly what the Government is in danger of doing. “The proposals which ministers have brought forward seek to shut off the very method by which we first found out about British involvement in torture. Meanwhile, the Gibson Inquiry, lacking the necessary remit, promises to be little more than a whitewash. “The Foreign Secretary must realise that the only way to restore Britain’s reputation in the world is to get to the bottom of what happened, and to ensure safeguards are in place to prevent it from happening again. Not only do his proposals fail on this count – they also threaten to roll back centuries-worth of British legal freedoms.”  ENDS Notes to editors 1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0) 207 427 1082. Reprieve Legal Director Cori Crider will be attending the speech and available for interview/comment.2. In 2009, then-Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague called for an inquiry in response to the revelations concerning UK involvment in torture in the Binyam Mohamed case, warning that: “As a great democratic nation, we cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope these will go away […] Until the full facts are known, Britain’s name and reputation will be dragged through the mud, not least by the terrorists and extremists who will exploit these allegations for their own propaganda.” Conservatives website, Friday 13 March 20093. Reprieve’s briefing on the Green Paper on Justice and Security can be found on our website.4. 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’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’