Commission welcomes judicial inquiry into torture allegations

Commission welcomes the announcement that the British security services knew about the torture of terrorism suspects

06 July 2010

The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomes today’s announcement of a judge-led inquiry into allegations that the British security services knew about the torture of terrorism suspects being held abroad.

The Commission has been calling for an independent inquiry into more than 20 such allegations and has expressed concerns that the previous government had attempted to use the courts to suppress evidence of its agency’s knowledge of the torture of Binyam Mohamed.

John Wadham, Group Director Legal at the Commission, said:

“We welcome a judicial inquiry that will assess the truth, or otherwise, of these very serious allegations and that a clear timetable has now been set for this process.

“We’ve been calling for a review process that is as open and transparent as possible, so we are pleased that secret documents will be included in its scope and would like to see a commitment from the Prime Minister to publishing the findings of the inquiry in full.

“We’ll be scrutinising the guidance for intelligence officers to make sure it makes it is sufficiently robust and makes it clear that torture contravenes UK and international law and the values that Britain upholds.

“The implication that Ministers and government agencies knew about the torture of UK citizens or residents and failed to take action damages our reputation as a world leader on upholding people’s human rights.”

The Commission has been calling for an independent review process that will make sure:

  • those carrying out the review are given complete access to all relevant materials;
  • the review team are completely independent of Government and appointed via a transparent and independent process;
  • the review is as open and transparent as possible, put as much material in the public domain as possible and hold as many evidence sessions in public as possible; and
  • the findings of the review are published as soon as possible with as little concealed for national security reasons as is practical.

The Commission's role in protecting human rights in Britain is recognised by the UN. It has a formal role in the UN system of monitoring international treaties on human rights. It also reports to the UN Human Rights Council on Britain's record of protecting the basic rights of British people.


See also: Commission calls for independent review into torture allegations 

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Notes to editors

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.