Allegations of UK Complicity in Torture - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Letter from Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the All-Party Group on Extraordinary Rendition, to the Chair of the Committee, dated 28 January 2009


  I am writing to you about UK nationals detained in Pakistan on suspicion of terrorist offences, in advance of your evidence session with Ian Cobain of The Guardian and Human Rights Watch on Tuesday 3 February 2009. I hope that the attached information is of use to your Committee in this evidence session.

I response to a Written Question the Government stated that two British so-called "mono" nationals detained in Pakistan had been visited by British non-consular officials. Dr Howell's letter however, which revised the total number of British nationals detained from six to eight, refused to set out how many of these detainees had been visited by British non-consular officials. He has still not done so, despite a recommendation by the Foreign Affairs Committee that he should.[28]

I have asked a number a number of other Parliamentary Questions which could be of interest, and attach them.[29] I have also attached letters to the Intelligence and Security Committee [Annex A], and from the Foreign Office Minister Dr Kim Howells [Annex B], correcting the answers provided to me by his Department. I am placing this letter in the public domain.


Letter from Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, to Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, dated 17 July 2008

Re: Extraordinary Rendition

  I am writing to ask your Committee to investigate allegations that UK Intelligence officers have been involved in the torture of British nationals in Pakistan. Having examined this issue I think it would be in the public interest if your Committee were to investigate it.

Clearly, your Committee cannot and should not seek to investigate every allegation of British involvement in torture. However, this is a particularly sensitive issue on account of the close counter-terrorism relationship between the UK and Pakistan.[30] Allegations of torture perpetrated by Pakistani intelligence and security services are widespread.[31] I fht specific allegations are groundless then your Committee can give the public reassurance. It would also be of value to have reassurance that British officials have not been complicit in torture by Pakistani authorities.

I have attached the Parliamentary Questions I have asked on this issue. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

I am putting this letter in the public domain.


Letter from Kim Howells MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, dated 11 August 2008

  I am writing concerning a written Parliamentary Question (203571) you tabled on 29 April 2008 about the detention of British or dual/ British/Pakistani nationals in Pakistan and my answer of 8 May 2008.

I replied that we were aware of six cases of British or dual British/Pakistani nationals having been detained on suspicion of terrorist offences in Pakistan since 2000.

You will be aware that since my reply, the Foreign Affairs Committee raised further points regarding these individuals in their response to the FCO's Annual Human Rights Report.

  While working on the response to the FAC report, officials became aware that the six names held on lists by different FCO departments and which formed the basis of my answer to you did not fully correspond and that in fact there were eight individual cases. However, I should make clear that it will always be difficult to give precise numbers as it is often the case that we will not be given consular notification of the detention of dual British nationals in the country of their second nationality.

  I am sorry that this admninistrtaive confusion caused me to give an inaccurate reply to your question. Procedures are being put in place to prevent this mistake occurring again. In the future. I have sent a letter of correction to the Editor of Hansard in order to amend the record.

  I know that you tabled a number of further Parliamentary Questions requesting additional detail about the original six cases. I take this opportunity to provide the same information in relation to he further two cases now identified (see Annex A).

  I hope that that his provides you with a comprehensive picture of the further two cases recently identified.

  I am copying this letter to Mike Gapes MP, in has capacity as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Margaret Beckett MP, in her capacity as Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, for information. Further details about our policy and handling of such cases will be provided in our response to the FAC report on the FCO's Annual Human Rights Report.

Annex A

PQ 206054—in how many of the cases British consular access was (a) requested and (b) granted.

  Consular access was sought in one of the two cases, but not granted before the individual was released by the Pakistani authorities. We believe that both individuals were dual nationals. However there is often uncertainty about nationality in such cases due to the fact that we rely on information from the Pakistani authorities to confirm this.

PQ 206055—in how many of the cases the detainee complained of mistreatment.

Of these two cases, one detainee complained of mistreatment while in detention and consular access was sought. Press reports alleged that the other was abused whilst in detention. We contacted the individual following these reports but he has not asked us to take this forward with the Pakistani authorities.

PQ 207358—whether any of the detainees are still in Pakistani detention.

I can confirm that both these individuals were released from Pakistani custody.

PQ 207259—whether any of the detainees were visited by other British officials.

I can neither confirm nor deny whether UK officials met any of these individuals to discuss non-consular matters. It is the Government's long standing policy not to comment on intelligence-related issues.

PQ 207361—for what reasons consular access was not sought in all cases

In line with the Consular Guide, in which we set out the help we can offer to British nationals abroad, we would not normally offer consular assistance to dual nationals in their country of other nationality. We may make an exception to this rule if, having looked at the circumstances of the case, we consider that there is a special humanitarian reason to do so. If we become aware of an allegation of torture against a dual UK national held in the country of their other nationality, it is likely we would seek consular access and we would carefully consider raising the allegation with the local authorities. We would look at each situation on a case-by-case basis. However, if we were not ware of such allegations then we would not normally seek consular access.

PQ 214990—what steps the Government took in the cases of those who alleged mistreatment

In the case of the individual who alleged mistreatment whilst in detention we raised these allegations officially with the Pakistan authorities. We have yet to receive any official response from them. In the other case, the individual asked us not to raise any allegations with the Pakistani authorities.

PQ 214991—how the government learned of the detention in Pakistan of the dual British/Pakistani nationals

As I stated regarding the original four dual British/Pakistani cases, the Pakistani authorities were under no obligation to inform us of the detention of dual nationals in their second country of nationality. In all cases we were informed of their detention either by family members of foreign officials.

28   Foreign Affairs Committee, Human Rights Annual Report 2007, 20 July 2008, para 63. Back

29   See: HC Deb 1105W, 8 May 2008; HC Deb 1815W, 16 May 2008; HC Deb 1005W, 4 June 2008; HC Deb 1006W, 4 June 2008; and HC Deb 1129W, 3 July 2008. Back

30   This was highlighted in the FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2007, page 166. Back

31   See, for example, the US State Departmnent's 2007 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, Back

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