Seven paragraphs the Government didn’t want you to read …

David Milliband. Crown Copyright 2010

So, here they are, the seven redacted paragraphs from the Binyam Mohamed case. The UK Government are now okay about them being in the public domain because the US has effectively put them in the public domain and, in any event, the courts have now told them that the information must be released. Despite Mr. Milliband’s best efforts to the contrary.

The UK Government is claiming a technical victory in that the “control principle” has been upheld – i.e. where intelligence is shared with the UK by the USA (or indeed any other country) we have to promise not to tell anyone else (unless they say it’s okay first). Cross our hearts and hope to die and all that.

And here are the offending 7 paragraphs from the original court decision:

It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities

Okay, so it’s not exactly genital mutilation (which Mr. Mohamed also alleges took place while he was held by the US in Pakistan) but the court was quite clear that such actions would be likely to have amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

The USA are signatories to the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The reference above to 1972 is to the 1972 ruling by the UK government which banned the use of hooding, stress positions and deprivation of food, noise and sleep.

Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve is quoted as saying “Today’s decision is very welcome, but the paragraphs revealed are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to British complicity in torture – much more is to come.”

As Foreign Secretary David Milliband told Parliament: “it’s about our values as a nation. It’s about what we do as well as what we say”. This from the party who promised an ethical foreign policy.

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