At the recent UNA-UK Policy Conference, members of the Association voiced their strong concern over allegations of the UK's involvement in torture and rendition.
Citing the observance of human rights and the rule of law as essential tenets of democracy, participants debated the worrying implications of any violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In response to these concerns, UNA-UK's Chairman, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, has today written to Andrew Tyrie MP. Mr Tyrie chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition and has been outspoken on the subject in Parliament.
The letter conveys the concerns of UNA-UK's membership and invites Mr Tyrie's advice on the best way forward on the issue. Also enclosed was a copy of UNA-UK's briefing on the UN system and extraordinary rendition. Copies of the letter and briefing were sent to representatives of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Justice.
Sir Jeremy's letter comes just a few weeks after the UN's Committee Against Torture published its concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the UK. The Committee's report welcomed a number of advancements made by the UK Government, such as the adoption of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Strategy for the Prevention of Torture (2011-2015).
However, the report also highlights a number of areas of concern, providing recommendations on a range of issues including the incorporation into domestic law of all provisions of the Convention Against Torture, the extraterritorial application of the Convention, and the continued use of diplomatic assurances.
Crucially, the Committee requests that the UK provide follow-up information by 31 May 2014 with regards to the following recommendations:
- inquiries into allegations of torture overseas
- observing the safeguards ensuring respect for the principle of non-refoulement
- ensuring the prompt release and return to the UK of Shaker Aamer (the last UK resident to be held in Guantanamo Bay)
- adopting comprehensive measures of transitional justice in Northern Ireland and conducting prompt, thorough and independent investigations