UK Not Ready to Be Accountable for Role in Torture Programme – Ex-Gitmo Prisoner

© AFP 2023 / JIM WATSON The guard tower of "Camp Six" detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (File)
The guard tower of Camp Six detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (File) - Sputnik International
A delegation by the UK's human rights watchdog has been sent to the United Nations in order to draw attention to the country's record on torture. The Equality and Human Rights Commission expressed concerns about immigration detention, healthcare, and youth custody.

Sputnik has discussed the matter with Moazzam Begg, Ex-Guantanamo Prisoner and Outreach Director at CAGE.

Sputnik: Britain's record on immigration detention, rendition and prison overcrowding will come under intense international scrutiny today at a meeting of the United Nations Committee against Torture in Geneva on Tuesday. How significant is this and will it provide any changes to the UK's policy on torture and imprisonment?

A general view shows the MI6 building in London, Thursday, March 5, 2015. - Sputnik International
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Moazzam: Sadly, in my experience, I think a lot of these episodes are an exercise in the attempt to look transparent and engaging with them but in reality, my experience has been that Britain is not prepared in any way to be accountable for its role in rendition and the torture program. I've been involved in inquiries in the in the form of judgment inquiry led by Sir Peter Gibson, I've been involved in giving evidence to the Metropolitan Police about MI5's role in torture, I've been involved in litigation against the government and I've been involved in giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee, which last year actually admitted to some degree that the British government had been involved in the rendition torture program.

Even if there is a recommendation or a suggestion made by the United Nations committee about Britain's role in rendition an beyond that, and the prison problem; I can't see much happening, especially in relation to Britain's role in torturing rendition, and that is because they have fought every single attempt to the legal process in order to avoid any semblance of justice.

Sputnik: The report notes that the UK is the only European country with no time limit on immigration detention; with torture survivors are among those held, while about 1% of all detainees are inside for more than a year. What image does this create for the UK and its stance on torture compared to other EU countries?

Moazzam: A couple of issues had the crossover; one is Britain's role in the foreign renditions program with the United States of America and other countries and the other is Britain's attitude today towards immigrants and refugees and so forth. Now those who are torture survivors of course have they have the right to seek asylum in Britain and the right to not be returned to a country that practices torture.

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Thames House, the headquarters of the British Security Service (MI5) is seen in London, Britain October 22, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The problem with all this, of course, is we're in Brexit Britain today, with Britain, a significant proportion of the population feels like it wants to leave the European Union, precisely because of the notion of immigration of which these individuals play a part of. I think that it is at some point discovered that Britain has treated these people with this issue of no limitation, for example, it really won't turn many people's views.

It may not even get as far as any legal proceedings that might save and protect people's rights. So I'm not sure what's going to come over it if there's a recommendation by this committee that Britain is not upholding its rights according to international law and treaties, then I don't know what it will do because again, as I said, I've been involved in various processes, especially in regard to rendition where there simply has been no accountability at all.

Sputnik: The UK government has failed to establish an independent judge-led inquiry into allegations of torture overseas despite "strong and credible" evidence of UK involvement in the torture held by other states in counter-terrorism operations overseas since 2001. What does this mean for Britain's judicial system? Does the UK believe in the rule of law?

Moazzam: As I said earlier, it is a veneer. It will trump the notion of Magna Carta and how that has been exported to the rest of the world and that not to personal justice be delayed or denied and so forth.

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In reality, and you mentioned that there's been no judgment required, there actually was in 2010 ordered by Prime Minister Cameron and that was it was as a result of the cases religious civil litigation that myself and others had taken against the government and that soon enough of fell apart. The reason why that inquiry fell apart is because it was never going to look at the role of British intelligence agents, and what they had done in the torture and rendition program.

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Eventually, it was handed over to the Intelligence Security Committee, which surprisingly, I did engage with who reported last year in two reports that admitted that British intelligence agents had to some degree been involved in torture and rendition with the United States of America… but there you go again, there's been simply no legal process that as a follow up that actually has charged anybody that has made it made a statement. Britain has never in regards to rendition and the torture program complaint.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Moazzam Begg and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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