Joint Committee on Human Rights press notice no. 56

Session 2006-07, 8 August 2007

UNCAT: ALLEGATIONS OF TORTURE AND INHUMAN TREATMENT CARRIED OUT BY BRITISH TROOPS IN IRAQ

CALL FOR EVIDENCE

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) intends to conduct an inquiry into allegations of torture and inhuman treatment carried out by British troops in Iraq, following the Baha Mousa case and the evidence which emerged in the recent Court Martial Payne & Ors. This inquiry will follow up the Committee's 2006 Report into the UN Convention against Torture and the oral evidence from Lord Goldsmith QC, the then Attorney General, on 26 June 2007. The main questions of interest to the Committee are as follows:

₠Why were some troops in Iraq apparently ignorant of the long-standing ban on the five â‚Ëœconditioning' techniques? Was this a problem in relation to one brigade, or more widespread?

₠Why was legal advice given to 1st Battalion Queen's Lancashire Regiment that the illegal conditioning techniques could be used? Who was ultimately responsible for that advice?

₠Did the Attorney General advise that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act did not apply in Iraq? If so, was there any connection between that advice and the legal advice that the illegal techniques could be used?

₠Why did the Government seek to resist application of the ECHR to areas controlled by the UK in Iraq? Would it matter if Articles 2 and 3 ECHR were not regarded as applying in Iraq, given other legal prohibitions on torture and ill-treatment?

₠Following up the UNCAT Report, does the Government remain of the view that it is not necessary expressly to accept the application of all of the rights and duties in the Convention Against Torture to territory under the control of UK troops abroad?

₠What further improvements can be made to the training of troops on the ground, interrogators and legal advisers?

The Committee expects to hear further oral evidence in the autumn. In advance of this, the Committee would welcome written evidence from interested individuals or organisations on the issues raised above.

Evidence should reach the Committee by 1 October 2007. Submissions should be addressed to the Commons Clerk of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA. Electronic submission is acceptable, but a signed hard copy should also be sent. In any event, witnesses are asked wherever possible to accompany hard copy by an electronic version, preferably in Word format, and emailed to [email protected]

Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed, placed on the Internet or circulated by the Committee at any stage. You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee. Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract parliamentary privilege.

Further information on the Joint Committee is available on its website at http://www.parliament.uk/jchr.

THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ARE:

Mr Andrew Dismore MP (Labour, Hendon) (Chairman)
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie (Conservative)
Mr Douglas Carswell MP (Conservative, Harwich)
Lord Judd (Labour)
Nia Griffith MP (Labour, Llanelli)
Lord Lester of Herne Hill (Liberal Democrat)
Dr Evan Harris MP (Liberal Democrat, Oxford West & Abingdon)
The Earl of Onslow (Conservative)
Mr Richard Shepherd MP (Conservative, Aldridge-Brownhills)
Lord Plant of Highfield (Labour)
Mark Tami MP (Labour, Alyn & Deeside)
Baroness Stern (Cross-Bencher)

Clerks of the Committee: Dr Mark Egan (House of Commons) 020 7219 2797 and Mr Bill Sinton (House of Lords) 020 7219 5358

ENQUIRIES: 020 7219 2797/2467 FAX: 020 7219 8393 E-MAIL: [email protected]

HOMEPAGE: http://www.parliament.uk/jchr

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Ms Jessica Bridges-Palmer: 020 7219 0724