An independent inquiry will be held into whether the UK was implicated in improper treatment of terror suspects held by other countries in the aftermath of 9/11, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.
In a statement to the House of Commons, the PM said that although allegations about the UK’s role were unproven, they must be carefully examined and resolved to enable security and intelligence agencies to focus on keeping the country safe.
Under the plans, mediation will be carried out with claimants in Guantanamo Bay legal cases in a bid to resolve them and allow the inquiry to go ahead. The Prime Minister also announced that compensation will be offered where appropriate.
The inquiry will be held in public where possible and is expected to report within a year of opening.
The PM said:
About a dozen cases have been brought in court about the actions of UK personnel including, for example, that since 9/11 they may have witnessed mistreatment such as the use of hoods and shackles. This has led to accusations that Britain may have been complicit in the mistreatment of detainees.
The longer these questions remain unanswered, the bigger the stain on our reputation as a country that believes in freedom and fairness and human rights. That’s why I’m determined to get to the bottom of what happened. The intelligence services are also keen publicly to establish their principles and their integrity. So we will have a single, authoritative examination of all these issues.
Mr Cameron also gave details of how the Government will give intelligence agencies more clarity for the future, including publishing the guidance for intelligence and military personnel on how to deal with detainees held by other countries.
The guidance states that the Services must not authorise action in the knowledge or belief that torture would take place, should report abuses by other countries to the UK Government, and in less clear cut situations, should consult ministers on what action to take.
Next year, ministers will also publish a Green Paper setting out the Government’s initial proposals for how intelligence information should be treated in court proceedings.