Annual Report: United Kingdom 2013

May 29, 2013

Annual Report: United Kingdom 2013

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Head of state Queen Elizabeth II

Head of government David Cameron

Criminal investigations were announced in two alleged rendition cases. As a result of these new criminal investigations the Detainee Inquiry was closed early. Draft legislation was published which would allow the government to rely on secret evidence across the civil justice system in national security cases. A moratorium on the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities was maintained.

Torture and other ill-treatment

On 12 January, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that, following an investigation, criminal charges would not be brought in two cases against UK intelligence officers alleged to be involved in the ill-treatment of detainees abroad. The first case related to involvement in the torture and other ill-treatment of Binyam Mohamed, the second to an unnamed individual held by US authorities at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in January 2002. However, the MPS stated that it had received other allegations, and was considering possible further criminal investigations.

Criminal investigations were announced, however, into UK involvement in the alleged rendition of Sami al Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhaj to Libya in 2004 and their reported torture and ill-treatment. In December, Sami al Saadi and his family accepted a financial settlement from the government. A civil claim for damages brought by Abdel Hakim Belhaj against UK authorities remained pending at the end of the year.

On 18 January, the government announced that because of the new criminal investigations concerning alleged renditions to Libya, the Detainee Inquiry would conclude early. The Detainee Inquiry had been established in 2010 to examine allegations of UK involvement in human rights violations of individuals detained abroad in the context of counter-terrorism operations. However, it fell short of international human rights standards for effective, independent and thorough investigations. On 27 June, the Detainee Inquiry provided the government with a report on its work to date, which remained unpublished at the end of year.

In September, a European Parliament report called on the UK and other states to disclose all necessary information on all suspect aeroplanes associated with the CIA rendition programme and their territory.

In October, the High Court rejected government attempts to strike out the claims of three Kenyan nationals who were tortured by British colonial authorities in Kenya during the 1950s. The Court ruled that despite the passage of time, the evidence was so extensive that a fair trial was still possible.

Counter-terror and security

The government continued to rely on unreliable and unenforceable diplomatic assurances when seeking to deport individuals alleged to pose a threat to national security to countries where they would be at risk of grave human rights violations, including torture.