Joint Committee on Human Rights Twenty-Eighth Report

2  Other matters

17.  We issued calls for evidence concerning allegations of torture and inhuman treatment by British troops in Iraq on 8 August 2007 and on 5 February 2008, following the publication of the Aitken report. We are publishing the written evidence we received with this Report. We heard oral evidence from the then Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, on this issue, as well as other matters, on 26 June 2007.[25] We also heard oral evidence from Mr Kevin Laue, REDRESS, and Mr Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers, on 29 April 2008.[26] We are grateful to all of those who provided evidence to the Committee.

18.  A number of issues were raised with us, other than those concerning the use of proscribed conditioning techniques, including:

  • the inter-relationship between the UK military authorities in Iraq and other authorities, particularly the US, in relation to interrogation practices and the handling of detainees;
  • the nature of the legal advice, particularly that provided by the Attorney General, about the applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights to people detained by the British military in Iraq ;
  • the practical significance of the decision of the House of Lords in the Al Skeini case that the ECHR and Human Rights Act apply to people held in UK military detention facilities in Iraq;
  • the practical significance of applying all the rights and duties in UNCAT to territory under UK control abroad; and
  • whether the UK's National Preventative Mechanism under UNCAT should cover military detention facilities abroad.

19.  Many of these issues are directly relevant to the public inquiry announced by the Secretary of State for Defence. Mr Laue and Mr Shiner both argued that such an inquiry must be broad in its scope.[27] We share their view. The army is rightly proud of its reputation for integrity and professionalism. The death of Baha Mousa, and the other allegations of torture and inhuman treatment in Iraq, have cast a shadow over that reputation which only thorough scrutiny of the full circumstances can dispel. We recommend that the terms of reference of the public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Baha Mousa should be as broad as possible and, in particular, should cover the matters mentioned in this Report. We intend to pay close attention to the report of the public inquiry and to keep the compliance of the UK's armed forces with the UN Convention Against Torture under scrutiny.

25   Nineteenth Report, Session 2006-07, Counter-Terrorism Policy and Human Rights: 28 days, intercept and post-charge questioning, HL Paper 157, HC 790, Qq185-240. Back

26   Qq 1-25 and the Annex to this Report. Back

27   Qq 2, 8, 19. pm Apps 20 and 24. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 27 July 2008