Police statement shows serious questions remain for Government over Libya torture complicity

January 12, 2012

Responding to today’s joint statement by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police on investigations into UK complicity in the torture of detainees, Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith said:

“I have nothing but praise for the line police who have been investigating the case, but they are being hobbled, just as they were in the hacking inquiry. They know as well as I do that Shaker Aamer is key to this case, and it goes without saying that they need to interview him. But there seems to be political pressure to move forward with the sham Gibson Inquiry, at the cost of a proper police investigation.

Today’s statement by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police on the abuse of detainees makes a number of things clear:

First, it shows that evidence of British complicity in the torture of Libyans Sami al Saadi and Abdulhakim Belhaj by the Gaddafi regime is so blatant that a criminal inquiry must go ahead before the Government’s deeply flawed Gibson Inquiry can get started.

Second, the decision to set up a panel to look at other allegations is clearly aimed at the case of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantanamo Bay. Reprieve has provided the Police with information on his abuse.

Third, this is the first time any official in any country has conceded that Binyam Mohamed was tortured – and it is clear from this statement that the CPS accepts that Mr Mohamed was tortured and it was a criminal offence.

Finally, it is unsurprising that they have decided not to prosecute ‘Witness B’. MI5 and MI6 should of course discipline any staff involved, even if there is no criminal inquiry.

But the main focus of all this should not be the rank and file, but those who were signing off the torture policy at the top. In that sense, there remain very real questions for Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and David Miliband, who were in power when these dreadful abuses took place.

Sadly, the current Government’s Gibson Inquiry simply has neither the clout nor the independence it needs to get to the bottom of this, and as a result is set to be little more than a whitewash. Meanwhile, current Government proposals to bury our justice system under a blanket of secrecy when intelligence issues are involved look set to hamstring any future accountability in the courts.”

ENDS Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 427 1082 / (0) 7791 755 415

2. The full text of the statement can be found on the Crown Prosecution Service’s website.3. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to deliver justice and save lives, 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.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.