Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1-19)|
30 APRIL 2008
Q1 Chairman: Kate Allen, Tom Porteous,
you are both well known to us. You have given evidence to our
Committee before. This has become like an annual event, as part
of our annual human rights inquiry where we comment on the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office's annual human rights report, which is
now more than 10 years old. Can I begin by asking a general question
about how the UN system is now working and the Human Rights Council
which has been introduced recently? What is your assessment? Is
it better than the previous commission or is it, as some people
have alleged, pretty much the same?
Tom Porteous: Thank you very much
for giving us a chance to give evidence this afternoon. I also
thank the Foreign Office for producing this report. It is a very
useful report. It provides a standard against which we can measure
the performance of the Foreign Office on human rights. On the
question of the Human Rights Council, it is nice to be able to
start this evidence session with something positive to say about
the work of the UK Government.
The UK has played an excellent role at the Human
Rights Council and is possibly one of the best allies among Governments
at the Council of human rights organisations like Human Rights
Watch. It has worked hard to fight off efforts by some Governments
who obviously do not want the Council to work properly and are
therefore trying to water down its institutions. We want to see
the UK continue to play this role. That is why we welcome the
fact that the UK is seeking re-election to the Human Rights Council.
As to the assessment of its performance, it is too early to tell
whether it is any better than its predecessor. Certainly, it has
the potential to be better.
We have just seen in March the start of the
universal periodic review process, by which Governments have a
chance to review the performance on human rights of their peers.
We were quite disappointed by the timidity of Governments in criticising
their peers, or at least some of them. For example, in March we
felt that Algeria and Tunisia got away very lightly, whereas the
UK and the Czech Republic came in for some pretty heavy criticism,
so we should like to see more consistency.
The March session also revealed the continuing
reluctance of the Council to take on the big human rights crises
that exist in the world and that are emerging. If the Human Rights
Council is to have more credibility than its predecessor, it needs
to examine the major human rights crises in the world. We have
seen the Human Rights Council address Israel and the occupied
territories. It is right that it should do that. If it only addresses
that, clearly there is a big problem. We have seen it address
Darfur. That is positive, although the resolution in March on
Darfur was extremely weak. We think that the council needs to
address crises like Somalia, Burma, Burundi, Chinaparticularly
TibetIraq, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. Unless it addresses
those human rights crises in the real world it will not have the
credibility that it needs to make a better impression than that
of its predecessor.
Q2 Chairman: So you would agree with
the FCO's report when it says that there has been a disproportionate
and unbalanced focus in the Council's early months on the situation
in the Middle East?
Tom Porteous: Yes, we would. We
think that the situation in the Middle East needs to be considered
from a human rights perspective by the Human Rights Council, but
other situations need to be considered as well if what it says
about the situation in the Middle East is to be taken seriously.
Kate Allen: I very much agree
with the comments from Human Rights Watch. This has been the first
year of the Human Rights Council and it has the potential to be
much more effective than the commission. We have been pleased
to see the role that the UK Government have played. Looking at
the FCO's new strategic directions and the fact that effective
international institutions are one part of that, as is preventing
and resolving conflict, we would like to see the Human Rights
Council's role as an early warning signal of areas of conflict,
by looking at what is happening in terms of human rights, developed
in the longer term so that it is not always dealing with crises,
but is able to talk about prevention and those early warning signs.
We think that the universal periodic review
process is a good one. The UK was one of the earliest countries
to go through that process. We were very pleased that the Government
involved civil society in that process and welcome the fact that
the Government are supporting seminars and other means to help
other countries look at how that process can work.
I should have said at the start that Amnesty
also welcomes the Human Rights Report, because it is a hugely
important piece of work. We have our differences with it, but
we also know that the report provides that moment in the year
when we concentrate collectively on the Government's record on
human rights, and we very much value that.
Q3 Sir Menzies Campbell: From your
standpoint, how far does the absence of participation by the United
States affect the work of the council?
Tom Porteous: I would not say
that the United States is entirely absent, because it is there
in Geneva and pays close attention to what is going on at the
council. It did oppose the creation of the council for various
reasons, and our office in Washington is certainly working hard
to secure greater engagement by the United States in the Human
Rights Council, because we think that it can play a positive role.
Q4 Sir Menzies Campbell: Is that
your view as well, Ms Allen?
Kate Allen: Yes.
Q5 Chairman: We shall move on to
the progress towards an arms trade treaty, which we have been
pushing, as you know. In our report last year, we noted that the
UN General Assembly had started the process, and the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office report gives some information about that.
What is you assessment of real prospects? The written evidence
from Amnesty suggested that "substantial blocks" were
starting to emerge as key Governments begin to outline their concerns.
In your opinion, what are those substantial blocks and what can
the Government and we as parliamentarians do to overcome them?
Kate Allen: We are very pleased
by the progress that has been made on the arms trade treaty and
delighted at the UK Government's continuing leadership on the
issue. They have been there from the very beginning as a champion
of the treaty, and that has been vital to the progress made so
far. Our view of where things are going is that there are some
obstacles, but progress is also being made. The group of Government
experts looking at the detail are progressing well, although there
are substantive issues yet to be touched on.
I think that there are some dangers, such as
complacency and a feeling that the arms trade treaty has been
done and has been through the General Assembly as an issue, so
the danger is that it might now get lost. Our call from Amnesty
is very much to maintain the UK Government's concentration on
the arms trade treaty. There is a long way yet to go in devising
the detail of the treaty and in ensuring that it is strong and
As parliamentarians, it would be good to keep
that focus. All too often, attention can move to the next issue,
and that would be a problem. A small number of states are opposing
the treaty, and some of them are also on the group of expertsI
refer particularly to India, Pakistan, Russia, China and Egypt.
Some states are opposing the treaty, causing difficulties and
questioning the scope of what an arms trade treaty should cover.
From our point of view, as Amnesty, it is important that the arms
trade treaty covers all conventional arms, including small arms,
light weapons, ammunition and components and parts. We want a
comprehensive arms trade treaty. I think that the British Government
want that, too. The danger is that those countries that I have
named will water down the scope of the arms trade treaty, and
that must be guarded against.
Q6 Mr. Purchase: Obviously, I would
also like to see a very comprehensive treaty. I know that it would
still depend on civilised and decent Governments ensuring, on
their part, that it was followed and adhered to properly. Regrettably,
given the mode and method of production in the greater part of
the world, people can obtain weapons of all kinds illegally and
transport them round the world almost with impunity. Do you have
any thoughts about how large the trade is in the illegal transportation
and sale of arms, which has always been a problem, and where the
majority of the armaments are emanating from?
Kate Allen: Many of those illegal
arms start their life as legal arms. So we consider that the arms
trade treaty, controlling the flow of the arms trade around the
world, will have a knock-on effect in terms of how illegal arms
become available around the world. The arms trade treaty, in itself,
can provide a great framework for reducing illegal flows of arms.
However, that would depend on the treaty being the comprehensive
one that I have talked about and on monitoring mechanisms accompanying
the treaty in respect of what arms are used for after they are
sold legitimately, thus ensuring that the flow of illegal arms
is reduced as far as possible.
Q7 Sir Menzies Campbell: The FCO
report makes some reference to cluster munitions, but perhaps
not in as much detail as you and I would prefer. In your submission
to us, Ms Allen, you gave the opinion that the Government appear
to be arguing for exemptions that would allow them to keep the
stock of some weapons presently in their possession, particularly
the M85, which I understand was extensively used in Lebanon, with
the consequences that we know about. How would you characterise
the Government's efforts in promoting the cause of a treaty to
ban cluster munitions?
Kate Allen: We are pleased that
the UK Government is supporting a treaty to ban cluster bombs,
but it is confusing to see them wanting exemptions for two different
means of delivering those weapons. You talked about the M85, which,
as you say, has been used in Lebanon. The UK Government describe
M85s as smart cluster bombsones that self-explodebut
that was not the case in Lebanon. We are all too aware of the
damage that those cluster bombs have done to the civilian population
since they were used.
The other mechanism is the CRV-7, which is a
helicopter rocket system that the Government are seeking to exempt.
That is intriguing because the Government have never actually
used it. They have not used it in Iraqthey have not used
cluster bombs in Iraq since 2003so it would be intriguing
to know why those bombs would be made exempt.
We at Amnesty feel that it is inconsistent to
look for those exemptions. It is possible that arguing for exemptions
in the cluster bomb treaty will undermine some of the work on
the arms trade treaty. We would like to see the UK Government
drop that. It is ironic that one of the arguments that the Government
use about CRV-7s is that they are needed to protect our forces,
but unexploded cluster bombs have killed more NATO troops in Kosovo,
including UK troops, than the whole military operation at that
time. So these are incredibly indiscriminate and dangerous weapons.
We would like to see the UK Government sign up to a complete ban.
Tom Porteous: I would add to that
that the FCO report itself says, proudly, that the UK has withdrawn
the BL755 and the M26 munitions, because they do not have a "target
discrimination capability nor a self-destruction ... capability".
Exactly the same is true of the CRV-7. So under the FCO's own
criteria, that too should be withdrawn.
There are two other ways in which the UK is
trying to water down the Oslo process, as we see it. First, it
is seeking to neutralise the efforts of other states involved
in the Oslo process to include in the treaty a ban on assisting
other states that are not party to the treaty. This is a question
of interoperability. Basically, the US, we feel, is putting pressure
on the UK to include this exemption in the treaty, so that the
Q8 Sir Menzies Campbell: So UK-US
forces can more easily operate together.
Tom Porteous: Yes, operate together,
and under those circumstances, the US could use these cluster
munitions. The other way in which it appears to be watering down
the treaty is that it seems to be opposing provisions in the treaty
that assign special responsibilities for clearance of already
contaminated areas on those who used the weapons in the first
Q9 Sir Menzies Campbell: So there
is some evidence of good intention, but it is not exactly fulfilled
by good actions. Is that a good way to characterise it?
Tom Porteous: If we are to get
a treaty that does the trick of stopping cluster munitions causing
unacceptable humanitarian suffering, what the UK is trying to
do will prevent that.
Q10 Sir Menzies Campbell: Just one
last question: what is the provenance of the M85s? Who manufactures
Tom Porteous: They are mostly
manufactured in Israel.
Q11 Sir Menzies Campbell: And the
other one, the helicopter rocket-launched weapon that you mentionedthe
Kate Allen: Can I get back to
Q12 Sir Menzies Campbell: Of course.
So we are not manufacturing them, but we are buying them in, if
they are in the British inventory.
Kate Allen: I will certainly get
back to you on where they originate.
Q13 Mr. Hamilton: Amnesty has argued
that there is minimal emphasis on human rights in the strategy
on corporate social responsibility, business and human rights,
and none at all on the Government's international obligations
to hold companies accountable. We hear quite a lot about the fact
that many multinationals are more influential than some Governments
and, indeed, have larger incomes than some Governments. But how
important do you both feel that the role of business is in promoting
human rights, especially in international trade? How can Governments
influence those multinational companies, which can switch capital
from state to state as they see fit?
Tom Porteous: Obviously, business
can be extremely beneficial. Businesses pay taxes, and they create
employment and so forth. We are certainly not anti-business. However,
it is pretty clear that some businesses have played a role in
various parts of the world in facilitating quite serious human
rights abuses. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty have documented
this. Just last year, we did a report on the abusive labour practices
of Wal-Mart in the USA; it is not limited to the developing world.
But we have also done work on the links between abuses in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo and gold extraction. We have
done work on the role of Google and Yahoo! in China, where they
are co-operating with a Government who are fairly restrictiveto
say the leaston freedom of expression. There are clear
links between human rights abuses and business in Burma, Indonesia,
Nigeria and elsewhere. Both of our organisations have done quite
a big job in documenting that.
Thanks to the work of campaigning groups like
ours, there is a growing awareness of such issues in business
and in government. Human rights organisations have been in dialogue
with Governments and businesses to address this problem. Reputable
businesses have a lot at stake. If an important brand with an
international reputation is sullied by accusations that the business
is involved in human rights abuses, there is a problem from a
business point of view. We have found it quite easy to enter into
dialogue with some businesses.
What has come out of that dialogue so far is
a plethora of voluntary processes and guidelines for businesses,
such as the extractive industries transparency initiative, the
global compact, which is a UN initiative, and the voluntary principles
on security and human rights, with which Amnesty and Human Rights
Watch are involved. Those things are good, and we have made a
good start. However, Human Rights Watch believesinterestingly,
a growing number of businesses agreethat, without regulation,
you will not get very far. The voluntary principles are fine and
have got us some way, but they will be only partly effective.
The reason why businesses are coming to the
conclusion that regulation might be necessary is that the smaller
businesses that can get under the radar are able to continue engaging
in abusive practices. It is the big companies that suffer, because
they are the ones with the reputations. They want to have a completely
level playing field. With the growing influence of China, Malaysia
and countries in parts of the world like Africa, big business
is beginning to realise that, if a regulatory framework can create
that level playing field, it will be to their advantage. Obviously,
it would be to the advantage of the victims of the abusive practices
that businesses have engaged in, and continue to engage in, particularly
in conflict-prone parts of the world.
Q14 Mr. Hamilton: I do not know whether
Ms Allen wants to come back on that as well. It is quite surprising
to hear that big business is in favour of regulation. Generally,
it is not in favour of further regulation. In your response, you
have not mentioned the role of the consumer. It seems to me that
the consumer and the market can play an important role, because
if consumers see that the products that they want to buy are produced
by companies or factories that abuse the human rights of the workers,
they will take their own action, will they not? A good example
of that is Apple computers.
Tom Porteous: That is true to
an extent. We have been at the forefront of raising the awareness
of abusive practices, and it seems to work on companies with big
brand names, whether Wal-Mart, Nike or Gap. However, the situation
is different with essential commodities such as oil. In many parts
of the world, the extraction of oil is related to serious human
rights abuses, but people do not know where the petrol at their
local Shell filling station comes from, and they will go on filling
up their cars. When it comes to such essential commodities, there
remains a big problem.
Kate Allen: To come back to this
Government, I think that their approach is disjointed. The Department
of Trade and Industry published a strategy in 2005 and the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office published one in 2007, but the role of
the Department for International Development was ignored a bit
in both strategies. The UK Government very much rely on voluntary
initiatives. Certainly, one of the areas that Amnesty was very
much supporting some years back was the question of the UN norms.
That went off the agenda, and instead, we had Professor John Ruggie
looking at this issue. He has just reported, and that report is
on its way to the Human Rights Council. That is now an opportunity
to take this issue, which is vitally important.
Like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty has reported
on many abuses that companies have been involved insometimes
unwittingly, sometimes purposefully. These issues need to be confronted
by the Human Rights Council, and from an Amnesty perspective,
we are increasingly less interested in voluntary mechanisms and
more interested in mandatory ones to control this situation. Professor
John Ruggie clearly points out that this is one of the governance
gaps following globalisationit is a total anomaly that
a parent company and its subsidiaries continue to be treated as
distinct entities and that the parent company has no responsibility
for the actions of its subsidiaries. These are issues that, in
a globalised world, have just got to be challenged. It is absolutely
time for the Human Rights Council and others to get to grips with
what will be one of the big areas for advancing over the next
10 or 20 years.
Q15 Mr. Purchase: I agree broadly
with the analysis made by Amnesty that it is difficult for Governments
to hold big international companies to account. We have, as you
said, this plethora of voluntary agreements. When I talk to large
international companies, they always reasonably say, "We
have an interest in good human relations, good environmental policies
and working to the highest standards", but the truth of the
matter is that that is absolutely voluntary.
As my colleague mentioned earlier, often some
of these international companies have a greater product or output
than many of the countries in which they are located. How do we
start to tackle that? There are certain powerful Governments who
could make an effortBritain, America, Germany and so onbut
the majority of countries where large multinationals are located
are smaller entities than the company they are hosting. How do
we start to get to that?
Kate Allen: It is absolutely vital
that countries such as the UK start that process of discussion
and debate that leads to something mandatory. Look at the damage
done: in Bhopal, 20-plus years later, the companies involved have
still not taken responsibility for what happened. They have still
not been effectively brought to account. The people of Bhopal
have continued to suffernew generations. It needs the UK
Government, with their influence, to start the discussion. It
was regrettable that the UN norms went off the table, but we want
to see that process and Professor John Ruggie's report to begin
a new approach to this from the Human Rights Council.
Tom Porteous: Two quick points,
one of which is that the extractive industries transparency initiative,
which is this Government's initiative, has been very positive.
However, that initiative deals with revenue transparency of big
oil-producing countries such as Nigeria and Angola. I think that
there needs to be a similar initiative looking at the expenditure
transparency of those countries. A lot of the money paid to those
countries disappears, when it should be going on social spending
on health, education and so forth.
Mr. Purchase: Nigeria, you might think.
Tom Porteous: The second point
is that a lot of the money ends up in western banks, albeit offshore
banks. More could be done by this country and other western countries
to deal with that particular problemto identify the corrupt
payments that end up in western bank accounts.
Q16 Andrew Mackinlay: Kate Allen,
in your written evidence you primarily suggested that the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office does not have a coherent strategy on gender
issues, so perhaps you would amplify that.
The Committee is conducting an inquiry on Overseas Territories,
so while you might want to paint on a broad canvas, we would also
like to know about any issues relating to Overseas Territories
in particular, because they are clearly within the direct competence
of the FCO. We have already identified the fact that there is
some disparity in the application of a number of treaties, conventions
and Western European norms in Overseas Territories.
Kate Allen: May I answer the question
quite broadly and perhaps get back to you on the specifics of
Overseas Territories as they relate to women's human rights? Amnesty's
criticism is that issues relating to women's human rights are
not included in the policy goals that the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office has outlined. We do not see a comprehensive approach to
tackling women's human rights by the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office. We know that that happens in some projects and in some
embassies, but it does not happen consistently and it is not included
in country strategies or in policy generally.
We would like to see something that takes on
those issues. I would like to outline a couple of reasons why
and paint a picture of how women's human rights need to be addressed
by the Foreign Office. If you look at violence against women in
Russia, for example, you will see that 9,000 women are killed
every year in situations of domestic violence, but there are no
policies in that country to deal with the situation and the perpetrators
very often go free. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tens
of thousands of women were raped and abused during the conflict,
and there are no effective facilities for support or health support
for those women.
With regard to the empowerment of women, we
know that very little happens. In Iran, a campaign for equality
was launched by women there. Many of the women who launched that
campaign, which is just a straightforward campaign for equality,
are now in prison. One of them, Delaram Ali, has been sentenced
to 10 lashes as well as imprisonment. In Nepal, we see a peace
process but no women involved in it. They are totally excluded
from drawing up the ways in which that peace process will take
In all those ways, the Foreign Office could
have a voice with regard to the position of women's rights and
could be saying consistently that they should be addressed in
foreign policy. That would make a huge difference to how women
around the world are able to live their lives, how they contribute
economically, their independence and their ability to look after
their children and be members of society. It is absolutely vital,
because this is pervasive and affects everything, and gender issues
need to be mainstreamed within foreign policy for that reason
and because of how women in particular suffer in those instances.
I do not have the detail on Overseas Territories, but we will
get back to you in time for your inquiry.
Q17 Chairman: May I switch the focus
to some terrorism-related issues? As you are aware, over a number
of years, our Committee has pursued the issue of extraordinary
rendition in several reports and through extensive correspondence
with three successive Foreign Secretaries. I do not want to go
into the whole history, but we have obviously taken up with the
Foreign Secretary the revelation that people were rendered through
Diego Garcia by the United States, and are awaiting a detailed
I would be interested in your assessment of
the legality and the legal obligations that apply to the UK Government
when a flight going to or from a rendition, but without having
a person on board, goes through UK airspace or lands on UK territory.
What is your interpretation of the legal situation with regard
Kate Allen: Very clear: if the
British Government know what the flights are used for, they have
legal responsibility to challenge. That is absolutely clear. The
British Government do know, because Amnesty International and
others have said that flights that have used UK airports are on
a rendition circuit. We have never said that we have known that
people were on those flights, but we have said that we know that
those flights either picked somebody up and delivered them and
have been returning, or have been involved in that rendition circuit.
It is very clear that the UK Government have legal responsibility,
because they know what those planes have been involved in.
Q18 Chairman: Specifically with regard
to Diego Garcia, would the UK Government, in your opinion, have
a responsibility to ensure that no flights involved in rendition
went through the airspace or used the facilities there?
Kate Allen: Absolutely, in the
same way as with UK territory. There is no difference in that
sense. The Diego Garcia issue is one where the US Government came
back some time later, having given assurances to the UK Government
that Diego Garcia was not used, and the Foreign Secretary having
given those assurances to Parliamentmany had doubts but
The US Government have now said that it happened
on two occasions. One of the concerns that we have as Amnesty
is that there are two men, on two separate planes, who were rendered
through UK territory. We think that it is also incumbent upon
the UK authorities to find out what has happened to those two
mento find out their names, where they are and what condition
they are in.
It is also important that there is a proper
independent inquiry on renditions. There has not been an independent
inquiry. There have been inquiries by the Intelligence and Security
Committee, but there has not been what Amnesty would consider
an independent inquiry. That is what we would like to see now,
particularly after the Diego Garcia revelations.
Chairman: Mr. Porteous, do you want to
Tom Porteous: I would just like
to draw the Committee's attention to a new general comment of
the convention against torture, which was written precisely to
address concerns that the US and its allies were using abusive
practices, including rendition and complicity in rendition, in
violation of that convention. The convention against torture is
pretty clear on those issues.
Sir Menzies Campbell: To allow an aircraft
to refuelwhether empty of passengers or notbecause
it is en route to somewhere else is to facilitate it. That is
Q19 Chairman: I would like to move
on to the related issue, which has also caused some controversy
in recent yearsthe so-called diplomatic assurances with
regard to individuals whom the British Government wish to return
to their country of origin.
There is a long history, which we do not have
time to go into now, but recently there have been some legal judgments
in the Court of Appeal about individuals who were to be deported
to Libya and to Jordan. What is your assessment of where that
leaves the diplomatic assurances and what would you suggest should
be done in such cases?
Kate Allen: In addition to the
cases that you have mentioned, there has been a European Court
of Human Rights ruling on the Saadi case. That ruling says that
there cannot be a balance between national security and returning
somebody to situations where they might be tortured. There cannot
be that balance; people simply cannot be returned to situations
where they might be tortured. In addition, domestically we have
had the decision about Libya and Jordan. I understand that the
Government are not going to appeal on Libya but will appeal on
the Abu Qatada case in relation to Jordan.
Amnesty International's view is clear: diplomatic
assurances are not worth the paper they are written on. Those
assurances are sought from Governments who routinely use torture,
who have signed the UN convention against torture and who, therefore,
routinely break international law. It is hugely undermining to
the British Government's work against torture around the world
that they are, and continue to be, engaged in this attempt to
remove people to countries where they might be tortured.
At the moment, the legal position and the various
challenges leave the Government in the position where they will
have to argue for diplomatic assurances country by country, case
by case. These various judgments tell the British Government that
they are going in the wrong direction, but there is the potential
for that to continue country by country, case by case. It would
be better if the British Government stopped pursuing diplomatic
assurances, recognised that the ban on torture is an absolute
and that there are no exceptions, and ceased going down this route.
They would then regain their moral authority in the world in terms
of challenging torture wherever it happens.
For us at Amnesty, this is one of those issues
where we deeply regret the way in which the British Government
have gone over the last few years. The diplomatic assurances and
the attempt to bring torture evidence into the British courts,
which the House of Lords ruled againstall those things
make it extremely difficult for the British Government to do the
good work that they used to do in eradicating torture.
Chairman: Mr. Porteous, do you want to
Tom Porteous: Yes. First, I agree
with all that, and that the UK is acting with total disregard
for the safety of those detainees when it pushes for deportations
under diplomatic assurances. On the specific question of where
the Court of Appeal judgment leaves the British Government, neither
that judgment nor any of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission
judgments that we have had so far rule that diplomatic assurances
cannot work. They have not ruled them out yet, although we would
like them to do so as we think that diplomatic assurances cannot
work in principle. As Kate says, things will be done country by
country. This leaves the British Government in an awkward position,
as it will be difficult to win such cases on a case by case basis.
I also point the Committee in the direction
of a more recent European Court of Human Rights judgment that
came out last week. The case of Ismoilov v. Russia provides
the best articulation yet from the European Court of Human Rights
on why diplomatic assurances from states that practise torture
cannot be considered reliable in a blanket sense. It is an important
judgment and it shows that if any of these cases get to the European
Court of Human Rights, the UK will lose.
My final point is that, as well as all the problems
that my colleague from Amnesty International has just outlined,
the UK has gone to every forum it can possibly to go aggressively
to pursue the weakening of the international non-refoulement obligations.
It has gone to the European Court of Human Rights, the Council
of Europe and the EU, and done so in the knowledge that its actions
will undermine the global ban on torture. We feel that that is
a serious cause for concern.
Chairman: Can we move on to Guantanamo
6 Note by witness: "In our actual submission
we said we are "concerned at the absence of a serious and
integrated approach to gender issues in both the policy goals
and the report; a separate section on women's rights is insufficient".
Ev 1. Back