Human Rights Annual Report 2008 - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

2  Rendition

Definitions of rendition and extraordinary rendition

11.  There is dispute over the definition of "rendition" and "extraordinary rendition". The House of Commons Library has supplied a helpful analysis:

Definitions of 'Extraordinary Rendition' and 'Rendition' do not exist in international law; they are political terms of art. The phrase 'Extraordinary Rendition' is generally used to describe activities involving the clandestine and deliberate transfer of terrorist subjects to foreign countries for interrogation using torture, inhuman or degrading treatment in order to gain intelligence for the 'war against terrorism'. The process exists entirely outside normal, formal extradition proceedings. It is also referred to as 'torture by proxy' or 'outsourcing torture'.

In contrast, while 'Rendition' is also used to refer to cases while individuals are transferred to other jurisdictions outside normal legal processes, the term generally implies that torture is not used.[7]

12.  The House of Commons Library adds that:

The distinction is important because although they are often used interchangeably, Extraordinary Rendition would almost certainly always be illegal under international law, while there are some instances of rendition which, under some interpretations of international law, may be regarded as legal.[8]

13.  The British Government does draw a distinction between two types of rendition, as set out in its most recent human rights report:

If we were requested to assist another state in a rendition operation, and our assistance would be lawful, we would decide whether or not to assist taking into account all the circumstances. We would not assist in any case if to do so would put us in breach of UK law or our international obligations. […]

UK policy on […] extraordinary rendition is categorical: we unreservedly condemn any rendition to torture.[9]

14.  Other witnesses in our inquiry argued that this distinction is a false one. Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, told us:

I wish someone could tell me what the difference is. As a lawyer, the legal term is kidnapping. Rendition is one of these euphemisms that we have seen far too many of in this whole process […] I think that we should just get back to the rule of law—if you want to move someone involuntarily from one country to another, you use legal procedures.[10]

Kate Allen, UK Director of Amnesty International, agreed:

people are being moved outside of the due process of law—outside of any methods of extradition. We, at Amnesty, have absolute clarity that rendition is illegal, as is extraordinary rendition. Just because you do not torture people does not mean that snatching them off the streets in one country, putting them on your plane and taking them to another country without any due process somehow becomes legal.[11]

Benjamin Ward, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch, told us:

the argument about rendition to justice is a bit of a red herring. It is put forward as an example where, because in some instances it produces outcomes that may be deemed acceptable, it means that one should not take an unequivocal position against rendition as a whole. One should not fall into that trap. It is, as my colleagues have said, kidnapping or abduction—whatever the outcome may be.[12]

15.  In this Report we use the term 'rendition' to refer to the transfer of individuals to other jurisdictions outside normal legal processes. 'Rendition' in this sense may or may not be 'extraordinary rendition' in the sense in which that term is commonly used, i.e. rendition for the purposes of torture.

US policy on extraordinary rendition

16.  In previous Reports we have examined allegations that the United States has regularly practised extraordinary rendition and that the 'rendition circuit' included a series of CIA prisons known as "black sites", alleged to be located in Eastern Europe, Asia and elsewhere.[13] In a speech on 6 September 2006, President Bush admitted that the CIA operated a network of secret detention centres.[14] The USA does not deny having used rendition but has denied using torture. On 5 September 2006 the then US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said that "the United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture."[15] US policy has now substantially shifted. In an Executive Order issued on 22 January 2009, President Obama ordered the establishment of a special task force to consider policy options for transfer of prisoners, to assess rendition and other policies to ensure they comply with US obligations, and to assess policy on interrogation. He also ordered the CIA to close "all existing detention facilities" and prohibited their future use. The task force is due to report to the President within 180 days.[16] We have previously expressed concern that the definitions of torture used by the US and UK have differed in relation to techniques such as waterboarding.[17] President Obama has now stated that he believes waterboarding to be torture.[18]

17.  Some of our witnesses expressed continuing concerns about US policy. Kate Allen told us that "we still see the ability to use rendition in transitory detention, so although there have been some progressive moves, we have not seen the complete end of rendition and its use in temporary and short-term measures."[19] Benjamin Ward expressed concern about "the military commissions and proposals for administrative detention".[20] Clive Stafford Smith told us that there was still much that needed to change:

there is an awful lot that he is not doing. He is one person who has a lot of poisoned chalices to deal with. Let us be clear: rendition is still going on and it will continue to go on. The business of closing CIA prisons is chimerical because the vast majority were not CIA prisons and they still exist. For example, the two people rendered by the British to Afghanistan are still being held in secret detention, and we don't know what their names are. President Obama is no more likely to make that public than President Bush was. An awful lot of work remains to be done, and a lot of the prisons that we have dealt with—that in Djibouti, for example, and I am sure that we will talk a little about Diego Garcia—still exist. They are not CIA prisons but are very active. We delude ourselves if we think that Obama's first few pronouncements have solved the problem. [21]

18.  Our witnesses further criticised the stance taken by the UK in relation to the US. Kate Allen told us that

the UK Government have been consistently slow to articulate their position on some of the abuses of human rights by the American Administration. It would be very good if pressure was brought to bear for them to articulate their position on transitory detention, […] on the issues that Clive has raised, and on some of the disquiet that we still have about the content of US Army field manuals, and some of the permitted techniques that remain there. It would be interesting and useful to hear the UK Government say what they think about those issues, given that background of being consistently reticent on such matters.[22]

19.  However, Benjamin Ward noted that the election of President Obama provides an opportunity for the UK Government "to point to Washington and say, 'Look, now there is an opportunity to really draw a line under what has been happening in the past five or six years,' and to put in place some really effective measures to deal with it."[23]

20.  We conclude that the shift in attitude of the new US Administration on the definition of torture and in its approach to extraordinary rendition is to be welcomed. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government supplies us with a full assessment of whether, in its opinion, the present US policy in relation to secret and transitory detention and permitted interrogation techniques fully conforms to international human rights standards as interpreted by the UK.

UK policy on extraordinary rendition

21.  We have set out in paragraph 13 above the FCO's statement of its policy on assisting "rendition". The FCO adds:

We have not approved and will not approve a policy of facilitating the transfer of individuals through the UK to places where there are substantial grounds to believe they would face a real risk of torture.[24]

22.  It has been alleged that the UK Government has not fulfilled these commitments. In July 2007 the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) reported on rendition in the wake of:

allegations that the UK Government has not done enough to ensure that the UK is not involved in such operations, and, furthermore, that it has not sufficiently investigated these allegations, which might be counter to its obligations under UK and international law […] There have also been allegations of direct involvement in these operations by the UK intelligence and security Agencies and by Her Majesty's Government more widely.[25]

Clive Stafford Smith was emphatic that "there is zero probability that the British officials did not know about rendition and were not complicit in it."[26] Kate Allen was less categorical, concluding that:

I think that at a minimum what we see is a complete lack of grip by the British Government in terms of who is passing through British territory. We see a lack of control. We have seen false information given to Parliament on this issue, and we see a rather passive response by the UK Government in asking the American Administration, but not being able to look at their own records, being very minimalist in the questions that they are asking and the definitions of rendition that they are using."[27]

Initial denials of UK involvement in extraordinary rendition

23.  On 20 January 2006, the then Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, summarised the results of a search of files stretching back to 1997 which revealed four rendition requests made by the US, all in 1998. Of these, two had been accepted and two had been rejected. [28] On 21 February 2008 the present Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon David Miliband MP, provided additional details of the two accepted requests, stating that "they were renditions to the US system, and there were full legal rights for the accused in those cases".[29] The Intelligence and Security Committee has identified the individuals and concluded that these were so-called 'renditions to justice', not extraordinary renditions.[30] Mr Straw told the House that, apart from these two cases, "there was no evidence of detainees being rendered through the UK or its overseas territories since 1998." The Government thereafter insisted on a number of occasions, including in evidence to us, that this remained the position and that US assurances could be relied upon.[31]

Rendition flights through Diego Garcia in 2002

24.  An allegation which was, over a period of years, repeatedly rejected by the Government was that the UK Overseas Territory of Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory) has been used for detention and rendition.[32] However, in a statement on 21 February 2008 the Foreign Secretary admitted that, contrary to previous assurances, Diego Garcia had been used for rendition flights when, on two occasions in 2002, a US plane with a single detainee aboard refuelled at the US facility on the island. Neither detainee was a British national or a British resident. Mr Miliband said that one detainee was taken to Guantánamo Bay whilst the other was released, and neither detainee was "taken to a secret detention facility or subject to water-boarding or other similar forms of interrogation".[33] Subsequently, in answer to a Parliamentary Question, the Government revealed that both men have now been released.[34] In his February 2008 statement, Mr Miliband stated that he had made clear to the US:

first, that we expect them to seek permission to render detainees via UK territory and airspace, including overseas territories; secondly, that we will grant that permission only if we are satisfied that rendition would accord with UK law and our international obligations; and thirdly, how we understand our obligations under the UN convention against torture. Secretary Rice has underlined to me the firm US understanding that there will be no rendition through the UK, UK airspace or overseas territories without express British Government permission. [35]

25.  In his February 2008 statement the Foreign Secretary announced that officials would compile a list of flights where the FCO had been "alerted to concerns regarding rendition through the UK or our overseas territories".[36] A list of 391 flights was subsequently passed to the US Government on 15 May 2008 and published on the FCO website.[37] On 3 July 2008 the Foreign Secretary announced that "the United States Government confirmed that, with the exception of two cases related to Diego Garcia in 2002, there have been no other instances in which US intelligence flights landed in the United Kingdom, our Overseas Territories, or the Crown Dependencies, with a detainee on board since 11 September 2001."[38] Andrew Tyrie MP suggested to us that the review did not provide sufficient assurances:

This list did not include flights through UK airspace that did not land at UK airports and the Foreign Secretary failed to ask the US to confirm whether any of the flights on the list were 'rendition circuit' flights. He appeared not to know whether the US had cross-checked the list of flights with their own records before providing renewed assurances on this issue.[39]

We discuss the issue of "empty flights" in paragraphs 42 and 43 below.


26.  The Government has claimed to have only limited information about the flights that landed on Diego Garcia in 2002 and the individuals in question. When we questioned the Foreign Secretary about why details of the cases had not been published by the Government he answered that "we have no confirmation of their names, and that is why we have not put them into the public domain".[40] In answer to a Parliamentary Question by Andrew Tyrie MP, the FCO Minister of State, Bill Rammell MP, stated that "We have very limited specific information about these flights and, despite enquiry, have not been able to establish further details that would be essential for purposes of further investigation."[41] Mr Tyrie told us that "the implication is that the US is withholding information about these flights" and that this information would be essential for investigation of whether criminal offences were committed.[42]

27.  From the information provided, Reprieve believe that have identified one of the men rendered through Diego Garcia in 2002 as Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni. They urge that the Government should clarify further what it knew of his apprehension, transfer and treatment, whether British personnel had contact with him and provide details of assurances sought by the UK regarding his treatment.[43] Clive Stafford Smith told us that evidence for this assertion was "pretty much indisputable" but that the Government had failed to respond to the claim. He believes the second prisoner was Shaikh Ibn Al-Libi but told us that "we are by no means certain."[44]   

28.  We conclude that it is unacceptable that the Government has not taken steps to obtain the full details of the two individuals who were rendered through Diego Garcia. We recommend that the Government presses the new US Administration to provide these details, and that it should then either publish them, or explain the reasons why it considers it would not be in the public interest to publish them.


In our 2008 Report on Overseas Territories we noted that the US lease on Diego Garcia is due to expire in 2016. The FCO told us that the 1966 Exchange of Notes which established the agreement would "continue in force for a further twenty years beyond 2016", unless it was ended by "either government giving notice of termination, in accordance with its terms".[45] However, at that time, Ministers had not discussed the possibility of terminating the lease or altering the terms of the agreement to increase UK oversight of activities on the Island.[46] Referring to the acknowledge rendition through Diego Garcia, Andrew Tyrie MP has argued that "if the agreements in place were not breached, then they appear inadequate for the purpose of preventing British involvement in extraordinary renditions."[47]  Clive Stafford Smith also told us that

there is no doubt that it violated that agreement, but it violated a lot of other things. British law applies in Diego Garcia, notwithstanding what some other people have said. It has very interesting aspects. In fact, the law provides for a Diego Garcia supreme court that is meant to apply British law, of which there is no such thing. […]The whole process has been one to skirt the law[48]

29.  We questioned the Foreign Secretary about whether the use of Diego Garcia for rendition flights would breach the terms of the agreement between the UK and the US on the use of the island. He told us:

In our view there should be consultation. I think there was consultation about a previous case—there were a couple of cases in the 1990s. That is certainly the procedure that now exists […] the US Administration have said that they will consult us if they ever want to use it. So they obviously share that view.[49]

He did not believe that there were grounds to examine the terms of the agreement that govern the use of the island, adding:

If the American Administration were now saying that they did not need to consult us, that would be a prima facie case for reviewing the arrangements. I am sure in 2016 we will want to look at whether they are adequate for the times; there is no limitation on that. In respect of the use of Diego Garcia for rendition there is an absolutely clear position from the British Government and the American Government about the appropriate way to act. In that respect, there is no lack of clarity.[50]

30.  We conclude that the use of Diego Garcia for US rendition flights without the knowledge or consent of the British Government raises disquieting questions about the effectiveness of the Government's exercise of its responsibilities in relation to this territory. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government indicates whether it considers that UK law has effect in British Indian Ocean Territory, and whether it considers that either UK law or the agreements between the US and UK over the use of BIOT were broken by the admitted US rendition flights in 2002.


31.  The Intelligence and Security Committee's July 2007 report on rendition commented that:

We are concerned that Government departments have had such difficulty in establishing the facts from their own records in relation to requests to conduct renditions through UK airspace. These are matters of fundamental liberties and the Government should ensure that proper searchable records are kept.[51]

The Government has admitted that flight records from Diego Garcia covering the period during which renditions are known to have occurred through the island have been destroyed.[52] In its submission, Reprieve questioned why accurate records were not kept and argued that the Government should make available details of how, why and by whom records were destroyed.[53] When we asked the Foreign Secretary whether the Government would be willing to do this, he replied: ""I have never been asked that before and there is no proposal to do it."[54] He stated that on Diego Garcia since 2008 "all flight records are now held by the British representative"[55] and outlined his intention to make improvements in record keeping:

The record-keeping systems that have to be improved are partly a matter of what happens on the base and partly a matter of what happens back in London. In respect of all detainee issues, there is now a central point in the Foreign Office for arranging that, and I think that is the right way forward.[56]

32.  Non-commercial, non-state flights do not require permission to land in the UK.[57] Redress has previously suggested that the law covering the use of civil aircraft for rendition and the procedures for authorising the entry of 'state aircraft' into UK territory should be assessed.[58] They comment in particular that although many rendition flights are designated as 'civil' flights, they might more accurately be described as 'state' flights and therefore should require more explicit authorisation.[59] Benjamin Ward was

supportive of the initiative by the all-party parliamentary group on rendition to create a permission system for rendition flights, including for overflights, similar to that which exists already in extradition cases under the European Convention on Extradition. That proposal was put forward to the Government in 2006 and, as far as I am aware, nothing ever came of it. Obviously that would not entirely eliminate the risk of transfers, but effectively requiring a transferring state to certify, in advance, what opportunity the prisoner had had to challenge any risk of human rights abuse that they might be subject to would make it much more difficult and much less attractive to use UK territory and UK airspace for such transfers. It would be a very important and symbolic change and it is not clear to me why that was not taken up.

33.  We conclude that, in the light of the controversy over the use of British Indian Ocean Territory for purposes of rendition by the US, it is important that full records of flights through the territory are kept, and retained for an indefinite period. We conclude that it is to be welcomed that the British representative on Diego Garcia now keeps flight records. We recommend that the Government discloses how, why and by whom the records relating to flights through Diego Garcia since the start of 2002 were destroyed. We further recommend that the Government provides, in its response to this Report, full details of its record-keeping and record-disposal policy in relation to flights through British territory, particularly BIOT, and state for how long it now retains such records. We recommend that, in its response, the Government addresses the question of whether it considers that current aviation law and aircraft identification procedures are sufficient to identify flights which may be carrying out rendition both through Diego Garcia or elsewhere through UK airspace.


34.  The lack of historical flight data makes it very difficult to test allegations that the two flights in 2002 do not represent the full extent of Diego Garcia's involvement in the rendition circuit. It is claimed that the island was used by the CIA as a 'black site'. During our inquiry into Overseas Territories it was further alleged that ships in or near the island's territorial waters had been used to hold detainees and facilitate rendition.[60] Such allegations include the following:

  • US Army General Barry McCaffrey, former head of Southcom, has stated twice in public that Diego Garcia has been used by the US to hold prisoners, stating in a radio interview in May 2004 "We're probably holding around 3,000 people, you know, Bagram Air Field, Diego Garcia, Guantánamo, 16 camps throughout Iraq."[61]
  • In October 2003 Time magazine reported that the Al-Qaeda operative known as Hambali had been interrogated on the island.[62]
  • A former senior American official told Time magazine in July 2008 that "a CIA counterterrorism official twice said that a high-value prisoner or prisoners were being held and interrogated on the island. The identity of the captive or captives was not made clear."[63]
  • In August 2008, the Observer reported that former American intelligence officers "unofficially told senior Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón that Mustafa Setmarian, a Spanish-based Syrian accused of running terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, was taken to Diego Garcia in late 2005 and held there for months."[64]
  • Reprieve allege that Abu Zubaydah and Khaled Skeikh Mohammed, currently held at Guantánamo, were also held on the island.[65]
  • The Observer has reported that Manfred Novak, the United Nations special investigator on torture, told the paper that "he had talked to detainees who had been held on the archipelago in 2002, but declined to name them."[66]

35.  In its 2008 Annual Report on Human Rights the FCO stated that:

The US government denies having interrogated any terrorist suspect or terrorism-related detainee on Diego Garcia since 11 September 2001. They have also informed us that no detainees have been held on ships within Diego Garcia's territorial waters over that period, and that they do not operate detention facilities for terrorist suspects on board ships.[67]

36.  We asked the Foreign Secretary whether this assurance extended to the use of Diego Garcia as a victualling point for ships outside its territorial water which may have been used for renditions. He stated that "we have no information, either of vessels inside territorial waters being used for rendition or of supplies from Diego Garcia going to ships outside the territorial waters.[68] The FCO state that such re-victualling would be "highly unlikely to occur" because:

The territorial waters of Diego Garcia extend to 3 nautical miles. Replenishment at Sea […] requires a stable transfer system between the two vessels concerned. This would usually be provided by an auxiliary vessel. No such vessels are currently berthed in Diego Garcia and consequently all vessels have to come into port to be replenished.[69]

The Foreign Secretary undertook to supply us with an assessment of whether, under the US/UK agreements on the use of BIOT, the British Government's prior consent would be required for the use of the territory as a re-victualling point for vessels outside territorial waters. He later told us that:

Under the UK/US Exchange of Notes which govern the use of the British Indian Ocean Territory for Defence purposes, the US undertakes to inform the UK of intended movements of its ships in BIOT territorial waters in "normal circumstances".[70]

37.  We conclude that it is a matter of concern that many allegations continue to be made that the two acknowledged instances of rendition through British Indian Ocean Territory in 2002 do not represent the limit of the territory's use for this purpose. We further conclude that it is extremely difficult for the British Government to assess the veracity of these allegations without active and candid co-operation from the US Administration. We recommend that the Government requests the Obama Administration to carry out a further, comprehensive check on its records relating to the use of BIOT with a view to testing the truth of the specific allegations (including those set out in paragraph 34 above) relating to rendition through the territory. We conclude that it is unsatisfactory that the Government is not able to give us a categorical assurance that re-victualling of ships anchored outside BIOT's territorial waters by any vessel from BIOT, for purpose of assisting rendition, has not occurred. We further conclude that it is unsatisfactory that the US has only undertaken to inform the UK of the movement of ships in Diego Garcia's territorial waters in normal circumstances but not in all cases. We recommend that the Government requests the US Administration to supply details of any movement of ships in Diego Garcia's waters since January 2002 that were not notified at the time to the UK authorities, and seek assurances that at no point were these or other vessels used for re-victualling of vessels outside Diego Garcia's territorial waters which were being used for purposes of rendition.


38.  The Government has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to accept US assurances in relation to the use of BIOT for rendition flights. A report from the Council of Europe in 2007 criticised the Government for having accepted these assurances "without ever independently or transparently inquiring into the allegations itself, or accounting to the public in a sufficiently thorough manner".[71] The 2007 ISC report on rendition exonerated the Government from this charge, but did so before the revelation in February 2008 about the use of BIOT for rendition purposes.[72] In our own Report on the Overseas Territories, published in July 2008, we concluded that "it is deplorable that previous US assurances about rendition flights have turned out to be false."

39.  The Foreign Secretary continues to argue that US assurances, such as those given by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, can be relied upon:

I have had assurances, as I say, at the highest level that there are no cases beyond those two, and also that if there was any desire on the part of the United States to use Diego Garcia for so-called extraordinary rendition, or for any kind of rendition, the British Government would be consulted.

We can be confident that our closest intelligence and foreign policy ally seeks to honour its trust with us in all respects. The degree of intelligence co-operation that exists between the US and the UK is of a unique standard and standing. It is based on mutual trust. It is not only one-way traffic. The US Government understand the importance of transparency and full openness with us. When the Secretary of State of the United States gives you her word, you take it very seriously. [73]

40.  Mr Miliband argued that:

It was certainly proactive on the part of the US to notify us in the first place of this new evidence that arose in February 2008. That did not emerge because I had been in touch with them about a particular case—they came to us. They were clearly proactive in that instance. I think that they have subsequently looked hard at their own systems, but they have been clear with me, in a way that I have then reported in full to Parliament, about the limits of their use of Diego Garcia. [74]

The Foreign Secretary assured us that in future the US would seek agreement for use of Diego Garcia for rendition flights:

Just to be clear, the information came out because the Americans found it; they found it and they told us. We said, very clearly, that our understanding of the agreement in respect of Diego Garcia was that there had to be agreement. They subsequently said, "We give you absolute assurance that, in all future cases, there will be; we will see that agreement." So there is no mystery about that.[75]

41.  We reiterate our previous conclusion that it is deplorable that previous US assurances about rendition flights through Diego Garcia have turned out to be false. We further conclude that the basis of trust in subsequent US assurances about the use of BIOT has been undermined. We recommend that the Government outline what practical action it is taking to ensure that it has full sources of information about US rendition activity on BIOT.

Empty flights and the use of UK airports

42.  In our last human rights Report we commented on the use of UK territory by aircraft on their way to conduct rendition operations or returning empty from such operations.[76] In its response to that Report, the Government stated that it:

does not consider that a flight transiting UK territory or airspace on its way to or from a rendition operation constitutes rendition. Nor do we consider that permitting transit or refuelling of an aircraft without detainees on board without knowledge of what activities that aircraft had been or would be involved in, or indeed whether or not those activities were unlawful, to be unlawful in itself. There are more than two million flights through UK airspace annually. It would be unreasonable and impractical to check every aircraft transiting UK airspace on the basis that it may have been, at some point in the past, and without UK knowledge, involved in a possible unlawful operation. Instead an intelligence-led approach is and must be employed.[77]

In his submission, Andrew Tyrie MP pointed out that the list of flights which was sent to the US in May 2008 "did not include flights through UK airspace that did not land at UK airports". He added that "the Foreign Secretary failed to ask the US to confirm whether any of the flights on the list were 'rendition circuit' flights. He appeared not to know whether the US had cross-checked the list of flights with their own records before providing renewed assurances on this issue."[78]

43.  We reiterate our earlier conclusion that the Government has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that flights that enter UK airspace or land at UK airports are not part of the rendition circuit. We acknowledge the practical difficulties in the way of monitoring all empty flights transiting UK territory or airspace. We recommend that the Government, in its response to this Report, sets out options for more effectively establishing whether flights, including those by civilian aircraft, are on their way to or from a rendition operation.

The UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances

44.  The UK has not signed the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances but told us that it played a "supportive role" in the drafting process.[79] The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 and will come into force once ratified by twenty Member States. At present 81 states have signed the Convention, but only ten Members States (Albania, Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, France, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Senegal and Uruguay) have ratified it. [80]Amnesty International recommended that signing the Convention should be a priority for the UK:

We would be pleased if the British Government would sign it. It is one of the few signatures, in terms of Europe, that is not on that convention. The British Government suggest to countries such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan that they might like to sign up to the convention. It would be interesting if this Committee would ask the Foreign Secretary what discussions he has had with the US Administration about this convention and whether any of those discussions are getting in the way of the British Government signing up to the UN convention on enforced disappearances. [81]

45.  The FCO told us that

The Government is currently examining the potential impact of the Convention on the law of the United Kingdom. In particular, lawyers are analysing the extent to which common law provisions may need to be replicated in statute law, and the introduction of one or more specific criminal offences. If the Government decides to ratify the Convention, these changes to the law would require primary legislation, which would be introduced when Parliamentary time allowed. Decisions would also need to be taken in due course on whether the United Kingdom required any reservations or declarations upon ratification. The complexity of these issues under consideration does not permit a deadline to be set at this time for completion of this analysis.[82]

46.  We recommend that the Government complete its analysis of practicalities of signing the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances as soon as possible. We further recommend that, having been supportive of the Convention at the drafting stage, the Government should declare its intention, in principle, to sign.

7   House of Commons Library, Standard Note on Extraordinary Rendition, March 2006 Back

8   IbidBack

9   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Annual Report on Human Rights 2008, Cm 7557, pages 16-17 Back

10   Q 6 Back

11   Q 12 Back

12   Q 13 Back

13   Foreign Affairs Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2004-05, Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism, HC 36; Foreign Affairs Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2005-06, Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism, HC 573; Foreign Affairs Committee, First Report of Session 2005-06, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, HC 574; Foreign Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2006-07, Human Rights Annual Report 2006, HC 269; Foreign Affairs Committee, Ninth Report of Session 2007-08, Human Rights Annual Report 2007, HC 533;  Back

14   Bush admits that terrorist suspects were held in secret prison network, The Times, September 7 2006  Back

15   FCO, Response to the Foreign Affairs Committee's Third Report of Session 2006-07, Human Rights Annual Report 2006, Cm 7127, para 45 Back

16   White House Press Release, 22 January 2009 Back

17   Foreign Affairs Committee, Ninth Report of Session 2007-08, Human Rights Annual Report 2007, HC 533, para 53 Back

18   Obama: 'I believe waterboarding was torture, and it was a mistake', The Guardian, 30 April 2009  Back

19   Q 2 Back

20   Q 2  Back

21   Q 2 Back

22   Q 2 Back

23   Q 3 Back

24   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Annual Report on Human Rights 2008, Cm 7557, pages 16-17 Back

25   Intelligence and Security Committee, Rendition, Cm 7171, July 2007, para 2 Back

26   Q 3 Back

27   Q 3 Back

28   HC Deb 20 January 2006, Col 38WS Back

29   HC Deb 21 February 2008, Col 558 Back

30   Intelligence and Security Committee, Rendition, Cm 7171, July 2007, para 44 Back

31   See Foreign Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2006-07, Human Rights Annual Report 2006, HC 269 and Government response to Foreign Affairs Committee report on Human Rights Annual Report 2006 Back

32  Back

33   HC Deb 21 February 2008, Col 547 Back

34   HC Deb 12 February 2009, col 2002W Back

35   HC Deb 21 February 2008 Col 547 Back

36   HC Deb 21 February 2008 Col 547 Back

37  Back

38   HC Deb 3 July 2008, col 58 WS Back

39   Ev 64 Back

40   Q 95 Back

41   HC Deb 26 February 2009 Col 948W Back

42   Ev 64 Back

43 Q11 Back

44   Q 11 Back

45   Foreign Affairs Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2007-08, Overseas Territories, HC 147, para 49 Back

46   Ibid., para 60 Back

47   Ev 64 Back

48   Q 9 Back

49   Q q 99-100 Back

50   Q 101 Back

51   Intelligence and Security Committee, Rendition, Cm 7171, July 2007, page 17 Back

52   HC Deb 6 November 2008, c688W Back

53  Back

54   Q 109 Back

55   Q 110 Back

56   Q 109 Back

57   Intelligence and Security Committee, Rendition, Cm 7171, July 2007, para 188 Back

58   Redress, The United Kingdom, Torture and Anti-Terrorism: Where the Problems Lie, December 2008, page 28 Back

59   Redress, The United Kingdom, Torture and Anti-Terrorism: Where the Problems Lie, December 2008, page 30 Back

60   Foreign Affairs Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2007-08, Overseas Territories, HC 147, Ev 182, 203 Back

61 ; Back

62   The Terrorist Talks, TIME magazine, 5 October 2003,9171,1101031013-493256,00.html  Back

63   US Used UK Isle for Interrogations, TIME magazine, 31 July 2008,8599,1828469,00.html  Back

64   US 'held suspects on British territory in 2006', The Observer, 3 August 2008 Back

65  Back

66   US 'held suspects on British territory in 2006', The Observer, 3 August 2008 Back

67   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Annual Report on Human Rights 2008, Cm 7557, page 17 Back

68   Q 104 Back

69   Ev 51 Back

70   Ev 51 Back

71   Council of Europe Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe Member States: a second report, June 2007, page 16 Back

72   Intelligence and Security Committee, Rendition, Cm 7171, July 2007, para 210 Back

73   Qq 96, 98 Back

74   Q 97 Back

75   Q 110 Back

76   Foreign Affairs Committee, Ninth Report of Session 2007-08, Human Rights Annual Report 2007, HC 533, para 47 Back

77   Government response to Foreign Affairs Committee, Ninth Report of Session 2007-08, Human Rights Annual Report, Cm 7463, para 23 Back

78   Ev 64 Back

79   Ev 52 Back

80  Back

81   Q 6; Ev 76 Back

82   Ev 52 Back

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