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Europe
EU states 'use outsourced torture'
UK, France and Germany urged not to use information gained by torture in other countries.
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2010 16:05 GMT
Binyam Mohamed has accused British agents of being complicit in his torture [AFP]

Britain, France and Germany must stop using intelligence obtained through torture in third-party countries, a report from Human Rights Watch has said.

The human rights body said on Tuesday that the practice is illegal, contradicts the EU's anti-torture guidelines and is self-defeating in the fight against "terrorism".

"France, Germany and the United Kingdom ... demonstrate, through policy statements and practice, a willingness [even eagerness] to co-operate with foreign intelligence services ... notorious for abusive practices," the report said.

The report No Questions Asked: Intelligence Co-operation with Countries that Torture said that the use of such information and defending the legitimacy of doing so, "risks creating a market for torture intelligence".

The New York-based group has called on the three countries to publicly reject reliance on such intelligence and reaffirm the absolute prohibition on the use of torture evidence in any kind of proceedings.

"Berlin, Paris, and London should be working to eradicate torture, not relying on foreign torture intelligence," Judith Sunderland, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

'Reaping the fruits of torture'

The report came as the British government said it would issue a fresh set of guidelines to its intelligence agents on how to avoid being complicit in torture, following pressure from another human rights group.

Reprieve had sued the government over its existing guidelines to British intelligence officials, saying it allowed them to gather information extracted through torture.

It claimed there was compelling evidence to show that the UK had been "reaping the fruits" of torture since at least 2002, but the High Court in London ruled that the issue was moot as new guidelines were in the works.

Earlier this year ,Britain defended its use of intelligence obtained by foreign security agencies from "terrorism" suspects, despite not being sure of how the informants had been treated.

The foreign ministry said that Britain could not "afford the luxury" of only dealing with agencies that shared its standards, since intelligence obtained from others saved its citizens' lives.

Repeated accusations

Britain's intelligence agencies have been repeatedly been hit by accusations that they colluded with the torture of terrorism suspects abroad - such as in the case of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed.

Mohamed, an Ethiopian who moved to Britain as a teenager, was arrested as a suspected terrorist in 2002 in Pakistan, and alleges that he was tortured there as well as in US custody in Morocco and Guantanamo Bay, from where he was released without charge early last year.

Human Rights Watch said the stance of a "no questions asked policy" was at  odds with the responsibility of all states to work towards the eradication of torture under the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

It added that information obtained under torture is also notoriously unreliable.

All three countries condemn torture as abhorrent and say it is never justified.

Source:
Agencies
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