June 27, 2006

New Labour obliged to answer Europe’s accusations of torture

Posted in Totalitarianism at 8:25 pm by David Gould

The Council of Europe yesterday passed a resolution that (among other measures) calls for an in-depth investigation into torture flights.

From the Guardian 7th June:
The full extent of European collusion with the CIA during operations to abduct terrorism suspects and fly them to countries where they may be tortured is laid bare today by the continent’s most authoritative human rights body.

The UK stands accused of not only allowing the use of British airspace and airports, but of providing information that was used during the torture of one suspect.

Britain – like Ireland, Portugal, and Greece – is described as providing stopovers for CIA planes, but the greatest criticisms levelled against London are about the handing over of information about its residents and former residents that has, says Mr Marty, led to renditions and torture. For instance, information about a former London student, Benyam Mohammed, 27, is alleged to have been used during his torture in Morocco, where he was taken following his arrest in Pakistan.

Tony Lloyd, a foreign office minister between 1997-99 said:
“If these things are born out, this process is really damaging to any attempt to combat terrorism in our society,” he said. “It leads to the suspicion that what we are doing is the wrong tactic and even as bad as the terrorists themselves.” Here is part of what the report actually says (graphic descriptions of torture): 204. It appears that the object of the torture was to break Binyam’s resistance, or to destroy him physically and psychologically, in order to extract confessions from him as to his involvement in terrorist activities. In addition to the sustained abuse and threats, the torturers used information, apparently obtained from intelligence sources, to indicate to Binyam that they knew a lot about him. Much of the personal information – including details of his education, his friendships in London and even his kickboxing trainer – could only have originated from collusion in this interrogation process by UK intelligence services. Since the purposes to which this information would be put were reasonably foreseeable, the provision of this information by the British Government amounts to complicity in Binyam’s detention and ill-treatment.
205. Binyam has described his ill-treatment in Morocco to his lawyer in several phases: an initial ’softening up’; a routine ’circle of torture’; and eventually a ’heavy’ abuse involving mental torment and the infliction of physical injury. In the first few weeks of his detention he was repeatedly suspended from the walls or ceilings, or otherwise shackled, and brutally beaten: “They came in and cuffed my hands behind my back. Then three men came in with black ski masks that only showed their eyes… One stood on each of my shoulders and the third punched me in the stomach. The first punch… turned everything inside me upside down. I felt I was going to vomit. I was meant to stand, but I was in so much pain I’d fall to my knees. They’d pull me back up and hit me again. They’d kick me in the thighs as I got up. They just beat me up that night… I collapsed and they left. I stayed on the ground for a long time before I lapsed into unconsciousness. My legs were dead. I could not move. I’d vomited and pissed on myself.”
206. At its worst, the torture involved stripping Binyam naked and using a doctor’s scalpel to make incisions all over his chest and other parts of his body: “One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once and they stood for a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists.”

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