New torture inquiry may be “necessary,” concedes PM
February 1, 2015
David Cameron has suggested that a further inquiry into the UK’s involvement in CIA torture may be necessary after Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) completes its work.
Although the Prime Minister promised an independent, judge-led inquiry into the issue shortly after taking office in 2010, he abandoned that pledge in 2013, handing the task to the ISC – despite widespread concerns from NGOs and MPs that this could result in a ‘whitewash.‘
However, in a 14 January, 2015 letter to legal charity Reprieve, he appears to concede for the first time since 2013 that an independent inquiry may still be needed, writing that “Once the ISC has reported…we will be able take a final view on whether another inquiry is necessary”.
In the wake of last December’s publication of the US Senate’s report into CIA torture, a coalition of human rights NGOs, including Reprieve, Amnesty and Liberty, had urged Mr Cameron to return to his original pledge of an independent, judge-led inquiry, warning that the ISC “falls…short of the necessary standards.”
In 2010, the Prime Minister had himself said, “I do not think for a moment that we should believe that the ISC should be doing this piece of work,” adding, “in answer to why there is an inquiry rather than the Intelligence and Security Committee doing the job, the inquiry will be led by a judge and will be fully independent of Parliament, party and Government. That is what we need to get to the bottom of the case. The fact that it is led by a judge will help ensure that we get it done properly.”
Responding to Mr Cameron’s admission that a further inquiry may be necessary, Reprieve’s Executive Director, Clare Algar said: “This suggests that even the Prime Minister thinks the ISC won’t get to the bottom of British involvement in torture. So why doesn’t David Cameron just stick to his original promise of an independent, judge-led inquiry? The British public deserve to know what part the UK played in the CIA’s shameful torture programme – but the ISC lacks the powers and the independence needed to be sure of getting to the truth.”
1. For further information, or to request a copy of the letter, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0) 7791 755 415
2. The NGOs’ December letter to the Prime Minister can be found here.
3. The Prime Minister’s 2010 comments regarding the need for an independent, judge-led inquiry can be found here.