Rights group demands that British prime minister replace torture inquiry judge

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rights group: Remove UK torture inquiry judge

LONDON — The judge leading the British inquiry into charges that his country’s intelligence services colluded with the torture of suspected terrorists abroad has had his impartiality compromised and must be removed, a leading human rights group said Tuesday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier this month that he was appointing former appeals court judge Peter Gibson to investigate allegations that British spies were complicit in the mistreatment of terror suspects held by the U.S. and other allies in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But Reprieve noted that Gibson has served as Intelligence Services Commissioner, Britain’s spy watchdog, since April 2006. The rights group said the government was effectively asking Gibson to “judge whether his own work was effective.”

Reprieve — which has represented several former Guantanamo Bay inmates — has long demanded an official inquiry into alleged British involvement with rights abuses abroad and initially welcomed Cameron’s announcement that he intended to “clear up this matter once and for all.”

British spies have not been accused of torturing detainees, but several former suspects have alleged that British officials were complicit in their mistreatment while they were held by agents from the U.S., Pakistan and other countries.

In the most notorious case, Binyam Mohamed, an ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate who is among 12 former detainees now suing the British government, says he was severely beaten, subjected to sleep deprivation and had his genitals sliced with a scalpel.

Cameron’s Downing Street office said the prime minister had full confidence in Gibson.



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