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Torture abroad - Security Minister and Amnesty International respond

Letters to the Guardian, 1 May 2008

Leter from Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK

Allegations that MI5 agents worked hand in glove with torturers who abused Britons in Pakistan couldn't be more serious (Report, April 29). This is not the first such claim. For example, a Yemeni man held in Iraq by US forces has told of being handed over to British "special forces" personnel who did not raise the alarm about his obvious torture at the hands of US interrogators. He later disappeared for nearly three years into the "black site" detention system operated by the US.

Also, former Guantanamo detainees from Britain have told how well-spoken British intelligence officers would question them in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Guantanamo, but do nothing to raise concerns about torture or illegal detention.

The UK government must explain what access its officials had to the individuals in the Guardian's investigation. What was the basis of that access? Did UK agents participate in interrogations, directly or indirectly? What representations were made to the Pakistani authorities concerning mistreatment in detention? And what steps were taken to ensure that information used by the UK had not been extracted from these individuals under torture?
Kate Allen, director, Amnesty International UK

Letter fromTony McNulty MP

Your leader (April 30) calls on the government to reaffirm that the ban on torture is absolute. I believe our position is quite clear, but let me spell it out: the government unreservedly condemns the use of torture as a matter of fundamental principle and works hard with its international partners to eradicate this abhorrent practice worldwide. The security and intelligence agencies do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment. For reasons both ethical and legal, their policy is not to carry out any action which they know would result in torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
Tony McNulty MP, Minister of state for security, counter-terrorism, crime and policing