UK army ‘defied Geneva conventions’

British newspaper says military has been training interrogators in techniques that appear to breach Geneva rules.

The MoD acknowledged that ‘some past practices … were not compliant with acceptable standards’ [GALLO/GETTY]

British military interrogators have been trained to use techniques that appear to defy the Geneva conventions, a newspaper in the UK has reported.

“The British military has been training interrogators in techniques that include threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness in an apparent breach of the Geneva conventions,” the Guardian said on Tuesday.

The newspaper cited training materials created in 2005 and 2008, as well as “more recent” materials in Tuesday’s report.

Although the manuals state that “torture is an absolute no no”, they do condone techniques including humiliation, with interrogators told to strip prisoners naked and “keep them naked if they do not follow commands”.

Exhaustion is also recommended as an interrogation technique, with a maximum of four hours sleep at a time allowed until prisoners co-operate.

Interrogators are also advised to provoke fear, by screaming, swearing and making threats to prisoners.

The Geneva conventions governing the humane treatment of prisoners of war bans “humiliating and degrading treatment”, as well as “cruel treatment and torture”.

‘Remedy deficiencies’

In a statement to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “While tactical questioning and interrogation provide vital intelligence that helps to save lives, the Mod is committed to fully observing the law.”

It said that the MoD acknowledged that “some past practices and training methods were not compliant with acceptable standards and has been working hard to remedy deficiencies where identified”.

“An independent legal audit of current training material has been commissioned,” the ministry said.

The report comes days after WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing organisation, published secret US files that showed coalition forces turned a blind eye to torture by Iraqi security forces.

Tom Porteous, the London director of Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera that there was a a real concern about where these types of orders are coming from.

“These training manuals suggest that the government has a policy of abuse and that is why we have reports of abuse coming out of Iraq,” he said.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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