Govt secrecy over UK strikes ‘profoundly disappointing’, say MPs
April 26, 2017
Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has criticised the Government for refusing to disclose information about the intelligence behind a 2015 UK drone strike in Syria, calling the lack of Parliamentary scrutiny “profoundly disappointing.”
In a report released this morning, the chair of the Committee – Conservative MP and former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve – said that ISC’s attempts to scrutinise the decision to take strikes had been hampered by the Government’s refusal to provide key information.
The Committee was “denied sight of the key Ministerial submission” relating to the strike, said Mr Grieve. He added that “this failure to provide what we consider to be relevant documents is profoundly disappointing.” He said: “Oversight depends on primary evidence: the Government should open up the ministerial decision making process to scrutiny on matters of such seriousness.”
The Committee also said it was prevented from looking into US strikes that appear to have been taken with UK support. Other evidence has recently emerged of UK involvement in the US programme, including the presence of UK personnel in US bases, and UK intelligence support for the selection of US targets in countries such as Yemen.
US strikes have killed hundreds of civilians in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan, where the US is not formally at war. The strikes are generally considered to violate international law.
Commenting, Kate Higham – Assassinations Project Lead at Reprieve – said:
“David Cameron announced in 2015 that the UK was pursuing a policy of lethal strikes outside of warzones, emulating a failed US model that has killed civilians and done little to make the world safer. The former Prime Minister called this a ‘new departure’ for Britain – and yet, as this report shows, the Government continues to block Parliament and the public from meaningful debate about it. This lack of oversight over such serious issues is completely unacceptable – ministers must urgently submit the UK’s kill policy to proper public scrutiny.”
Notes to Editors
1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140.
2. Mr Cameron said in 2015 that the strike marked a ‘new departure’ for British policy; see here.
3. Further background on Parliament’s concerns over a lack of scrutiny over UK strikes can be seen here.