“English common law has regarded torture and its fruits with abhorrence for over 500 years.”
[Lord Bingham, House of Lords]
“No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”
[UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) Article 3]
“All you need to know is that there was a ‘before 9/11’ and there was an ‘after 9/11.’ After 9/11, the gloves came off.” [Cofer Black, as Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center]
“The sad fact is they [the British government] have acted duplicitously, immorally and unlawfully. It is not just their uncritical acceptance of and obedience to torturous conditions, regimes, and physical restraint or worse. They were there by choice. These are the lessons of Nuremberg. You cannot simply be present in these circumstances and escape your own role. The definition of torture under the UN convention is the application of extreme mental or physical pressure by a state on an individual for the purpose of obtaining information. Any complicity in that, as well as direct application, is in breach of international law and is criminal by definition. The paradox is that whilst the government is unperturbed in using that information and depending upon it as reliable, it acknowledges too that information obtained through torture and duress is abhorrent to the British way of life.”
[Moazzam Begg, Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantanamo]
Over the past eight years, human rights watchdogs, researchers and lawyers recorded a disturbing number of cases involving individuals whose common experiences of detention without charge, illegal transportations to other states without recourse to due process, abuse and torture has pointed to a systematic violation of international laws. The evidence directly implicates the US administration who while denying involvement in torture, partly by redefining its meaning, has admitted that it is overseeing an ‘outsourcing’ process of intelligence gathering in which terrorist suspects benefit from being rendered or transferred to interrogator countries experienced and sympathetic to the cultural needs of the detainees. However, the role of British authorities in this programme has still to be fully revealed. On numerous occasions Government representatives have denied any involvement in the transfer of individuals (renditions) and torture. As the evidence continues to mount it has become apparent that an international chain of abuse links both the US and UK administrations to breaches of international human rights conventions.
After 9/11, under the slogan ‘War on Terror’, there were moves to prioritise national ‘security measures’ over human rights and civil liberties with the ratification of legislation such as the Patriot Act in the USA. Additionally, international alliances were forged involving countries which ranged from the expected, to the startling. A picture of systematic cooperation between the West, Eastern Europe, Asian sub-continent and the Middle East emerged which would allow terrorist suspects to be ‘fast-tracked’ and undergo a variety of legally questionable interrogation techniques, in order to crush the threat of global terrorism. Evidence is emerging that in waging this war fabricated accounts of terrorist acts produced through forced or extracted confessions have been used to justify a whole raft of anti-terror legislation, and the illegal actions which are described in the report below.
The Cageprisoners’ report entitled ‘Fabricating Terrorism II: British Complicity in Renditions and Torture’ is an update of the report Fabricating Terrorism, released in 2006. The original report was compiled using evidence ranging from the testimonies of detainees, existing interviews with officials in the security services, and research from a number of other sources.
The updated report focuses on the British Government which projects itself as a leader in the field of human rights, in recent years ratifying the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) in 2003, questioning whether its commitment to human rights is as strong as its commitment to the USA, and in the process challenging official government denials in regard to rendition and torture
One of the key features of Fabricating Terrorism II, is the case of Farid Hilali. The case demonstrates that the UK security/intelligence officials were complicit in the rendition and torture of individuals as early as two years prior to 9/11. This fact suggests that the unlawful activities of the UK authorities are systematic, rather than rare abuses.
Below there are 28 case studies mostly detailing the experiences of British citizens and British residents granted asylum which illustrate the manner in which they have passed through a subterranean system of kidnappings, ghosted to ‘black sites’, suffering abuse and torture. Due to the constraints of space and time these cases represent a much larger number of cases, often undocumented. They illustrate issues of illegality that stem from current British policy on detentions in the ‘War on Terror’. We hope this report helps illuminate a path along which all the other detentions are discovered so that the true extent of British involvement in such practices can be highlighted.