Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Torture Files: The United Kingdom Releases Its Own "Torture Papers"

We've blogged on the infamous "torture memo" written by legal advisers telling President George W. Bush that the Torture Convention did not apply to interrogations of Guantánamo detainees. Now the United Kingdom has released 900 papers (so far) revealing Britain's support for and participation in extraordinary renditions and torture.

One of the most startling documents is chapter 32 of MI6's general procedural manual, entitled "Detainees and Detention Operations", which advises officers that among the "particular sensitivities" they need to consider before becoming directly involved in an operation to detain a terrorism suspect is the question of whether "detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation".
Reminds me of the McCann v United Kingdom (2005) case before the European Court of Human Rights, in which 3 Irish Republic Army members were summarily shot at point-blank range to make sure there was no possibility they could set off a car bomb. In fact, the UK's struggle against terrorism since 2001 has involved activities that have already been judged to violate the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular the prohibition on torture (see, for example, Chahal v. United Kingdom (1996) on "diplomatic assurances" and torture, and the more recent Saadi v. Italy (2008) decision (prior post); but see, in the UK's favor, its prevention of deportation based on Saadi).
More than just a memo, the torture files come in 4 chapters:
► M16 legal advice;
► Downing Street's role;
► The Whitehall row; and
► The interrogations.
Bonne lecture!

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