Britain 'complicit' in human rights abuses at Camp Delta

By Jerome Taylor 
Published: 28 March 2006 

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article354076.ece

Britain has been complicit in the human rights abuses
committed by US authorities at Guantanamo Bay prison
camp, according to a report released today. 

Drawing on exhaustive interviews with detainees and
evidence from security services, the dossier gives the
complete picture of the British government's co-
operation with the US over a camp it now says should
be closed.

The report, Fabricating Terrorism - British Complicity
in Renditions and Terror, is a scathing indictment of
the British government's "systematic violations of
international law" over its co-operation with the US
authorities in the detention of British citizens and
residents at the US-run facility in Cuba. The
research, compiled by the human rights group Cage
Prisoners, plots British involvement in the cases of
13 current or former Guantanamo detainees - either
British citizens or residents.

All the detainees in the report consistently testified
that UK authorities were aware of their plight and
unwilling to intervene despite the knowledge that they
were either at risk of torture or said they had been
tortured.

There is no suggestion British authorities played any
part in torturing the detainees but the report does
argue consistent co-operation between the US and UK
has led to an "international chain of abuse" that
flies in the face of the British government projecting
itself as a leader in the field of human rights.

One of the most serious cases surrounds the rendition,
imprisonment and alleged torture of Benyam Mohammed
al-Habashi, an Ethiopian national with British
residency, who was arrested in April 2002 as he tried
to leave Pakistan. Benyam was later "rendered" to
Morocco and Afghanistan before arriving in Guantanamo
in September 2004. Mr al-Habashi claims that, while in
a secret detention facility south of the Moroccan
capital Rabat, he was brutally tortured by his
interrogators as they asked questions that could only
have been supplied by the British.

In December last year, Jack Straw was forced to admit
that MI6 had interrogated Mr al-Habashi in Pakistan
before he was sent to Morocco but insisted the
security services "did not observe any abuse".

Clive Stafford Smith, Mr al-Habashi's lawyer, argues
that the nature of his client's imprisonment in
Morocco makes the British government complicit in his
torture. "The British government was complicit in some
of the abuses that took place against Benyam ... to
the extent that the Government told the Moroccans
information that they would use against him in the
torture sessions." Now on hunger strike, Mr al-Habashi
is one of 10 Guantanamo detainees waiting to be tried
by a US Military Commission.

Two British residents, Omar Deghayes and Shaker Aamer,
both still incarcerated in Guantanamo also say they
were questioned by British authorities before their
rendition and imprisonment in Guantanamo. Similarly,
many of those who have since been released without
charge also accuse London of knowing well in advance
that they were being transported to Cuba.

The latest findings show mounting evidence of
consistent involvement and presence of UK officials in
run up to the transfer of many British citizens and
residents to Guantanamo. "In nearly every single
case," the report says, "British intelligence was
fully aware of the status of these individuals and
still allowed for their transfer."

Geoffrey Bindman, the chairman of the British
Institute of Human Rights, argues that each case study
shows a worrying level of UK collusion. "If
substantiated," he writes in the report's forward,
"they demonstrate an intolerable level of
collaboration and collusion between the UK and US
authorities in the abuses which have taken place at
Guantanamo and elsewhere through the 'outsourcing' of
torture.

"They also demonstrate a pathetic reluctance on the
part of the UK government to stand up for the rights
of its citizens and permanent residents against
illegal and unacceptable treatment."

The government has argued it is unable to intervene on
behalf of those British residents still left in
Guantanamo such as Mr Deghayes and Mr Aamer because
they do not hold British passports.

Asim Qureshi of Cage Prisoners said he hoped the
report would help alert British citizens to the
dangerous policies that are being carried out in their
name. "Rendition and torture do not help build
security but instead only compromise the standing and
security of the British Government in the
international community."

Rendered to Guantanamo?

* BINYAM MOHAMMED AL-HABASHI

Visited by MI6 agents while in prison in Karachi who
told him he would be moved to Morocco. Upon arrival,
MI5 agents supplied interrogators with information to
ease the extraction of confessions. He remains in
Guantanamo Bay.

* JAMAL AL-HARITH

Fell into the hands of US forces while imprisoned by
the Taliban in Afghanistan. Despite promises to help
establish his innocence, the British Embassy in Kabul
permitted his rendition to Guantanamo Bay.

* JAMIL EL BANNA,

BISHER AL-RAWI

Picked up by authorities in the Gambia on the advice
of the British and subsequently rendered to
Guantanamo. Still imprisoned.

* MOAZZAM BEGG

Regularly questioned by British authorities in
Pakistan and Afghanistan, who allowed rendition.

* MARTIN MUBANGA

British intelligence supplied evidence leading to his
arrest in Lusaka. Questioned regularly by British
agents. MI5 still allowed US forces to render him to
Guantanamo.

* OMAR DEGHAYES

Interrogated by a British officer by the name of
"Andrew" in Pakistan, who promised to return him home
if he co-operated. Despite complying, he was sent to
Guantanamo, where he remains.

* RICHARD BELMAR

Held in Pakistan where requests from the British
Consulate to visit him fell on deaf ears. By the time
access was granted, Belmar was on his way to
Guantanamo. M15 had been permitted full access from
day one.

* THE TIPTON THREE: SHAFIQ RASUL, RHUHEL AHMED, ASIF
IQBAL

Held by US forces in Afghanistan, where they were
questioned by British officials before being rendered.

* SHAKER AAMER

Interrogated by MI5 and MI6 in Kandahar. On hunger
strike in Guantanamo.

* TAREK DERGOUL

Questioned in Afghanistan by British forces. Believing
they intended to help, he complied. He was rendered to
Guantanamo.

Source: Fabricating Terrorism British Complicity in
Renditions and Torture by Cage Prisoners. 




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