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Not good enough

August 5, 2011

Campaigners and lawyers of former detainees say they will boycott an inquiry into the alleged torture and mistreatment of UK terror suspects. They say the inquiry is neither transparent nor robust enough.

Prisoners in the yard at Guantanamo Bay
The inquiry's main focus will be cases from Guantanamo BayImage: picture alliance/dpa

An investigation into allegations of torture and mistreatment of UK terror suspects is facing a boycott from rights campaigners and the lawyers of former detainees.

An inquiry into detainee rendition was launched last year by British Prime Minister David Cameron, following allegations the UK colluded in torture of terror suspects. Cameron said then that he was "determined to get to the bottom of what happened" and that the UK believed in "fairness, freedom and human rights."

The inquiry, headed by Sir Peter Gibson, is due to start at the end of an ongoing police investigation into the allegations.

Amnesty International protest in Hong Kong
Amnesty International are one of the groups in the boycottImage: AP

However, as the inquiry's terms and protocols were revealed, 10 campaign groups announced they would be boycotting it, saying the process lacked credibility and transparency.

'Veil of secrecy'

Amnesty International is one of the groups not taking part. The organization said the decision over what documents and material can be made public during the inquiry is fully in the government's hands.

Tara Lyle from Amnesty International said the group made suggestions for independent mechanisms, so that "information that is being kept secret is being kept secret for the right reasons."

"Unfortunately it looks as if none of our suggestions have been taken up so it looks as if the whole inquiry is going to take place with a veil of secrecy around it," said Lyle.

Campaigners are also concerned there will be no meaningful participation by former and current detainees and no opportunity to question evidence from intelligence officials.

Rendition and torture

The inquiry was called after claims by Ethiopian-born UK resident Binyam Mohamed that British security services were aware of his torture by foreign interrogators and fed questions for him through the CIA.

Picture on a Baghdad wall of an Iraqi prisoner under torture with the Statue of Liberty
The UK is accused of colluding with the CIA in torturing terror suspectsImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

He claimed he was tortured after being held in Pakistan in 2002 and then moved to Morocco and Afghanistan.

"Some of these men were sent to Guantanamo Bay, others were rendered from country to country and then interrogated, detained and tortured, it is alleged," said Camilla Jelbart from the group Freedom from Torture.

"It [the inquiry] is not going to get to the truth," Jelbart added. "We do not have a robust and transparent process."

The inquiry's main focus will be cases of British citizens and residents who were held under US custody at Guantanamo Bay. The UK has always insisted it does not use or condone torture.

Despite the boycott from campaigners and lawyers for former detainees, the government has said the inquiry will go ahead.

Author: Olly Barratt / cb
Editor: Sean Sinico