NGOs call on Prime Minister to honour torture inquiry promise

December 22, 2014

22 December

Nine human rights NGOs, including Reprieve, are urging the British Prime Minister to honour his 2010 promise of an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in the US torture programme.

In a letter sent to Downing Street on 16 December, the organisations argue that “last week’s publication of the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has highlighted not only the horrors of the CIA’s torture programme, but also the UK’s failure as a country to put our own house in order.”

They point out that the current proposal for the matter to be examined by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) “falls…short of the necessary standards,” adding that the Prime Minister himself said in 2010 that the ISC was not the right choice for an inquiry.

On 19 December 2013 – one year ago today – the Government u-turned on its pledge of an independent, judge-led inquiry into UK involvement in torture and ‘rendition,’ and announced that the task would instead be passed to the ISC.

The NGOs have previously said that they were “deeply disappointed” by this decision, as the ISC “has neither the powers nor the independence necessary to get to the truth.”

The letter is signed by the AIRE Centre; Amnesty International UK; Cage; Freedom from Torture; JUSTICE; Liberty; Redress; Reprieve; and Rights Watch UK.

Reprieve’s Executive Director Clare Algar said: “The Senate’s report on CIA torture has exposed the horrors of the programme. Yet we have still not had a clear answer on the involvement of the UK Government in this shameful episode. That is why we need a fully independent inquiry, with the powers it needs to get to the truth. Sadly, the proposed ISC inquiry – as the Prime Minister once said himself – is not up to the job. Four years ago, the Government promised an independent, judge-led inquiry; one year ago, it u-turned on that promise. We are urging the Prime Minister to think again, and honour his original promise.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8160

2. The NGOs’ letter is available here.

3. A previous letter from the NGOs from 30 October 2014, here, sets out in detail their concerns over the ISC.