23 May 2007

Session 2006-07 Press Notice No. 39

Treatment of detainees in Iraq and UK Compliance with UN Torture Convention

Baha Mousa died in September 2003 in the custody of UK armed forces. Post-mortem examination showed some 93 injuries to his body. A number of others detained at the same time suffered from similar treatment. As a result, seven members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment were charged with offences including inhumane treatment and manslaughter. On 30 April 2007, one of the accused, Corporal Payne, was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment after pleading guilty to inhumane treatment of detainees.

The Court Martial Board heard evidence that senior officers, including a Legal Officer, sanctioned the "conditioning" of detainees, including the use of hooding and stress positions, for the purpose of maintaining the "shock of capture" before interrogation. The Joint Committee on Human Rights considers that this calls into question some of the evidence it received from the Government in the course of its recent inquiry into the UK's compliance with the UN Convention against Torture ("UNCAT"), including confirmation that the use of hooding and stress positioning for the purpose of interrogation had been prohibited since 1972. The Committee has written to the Secretary of State for Defence for an explanation and expects a speedy response.

Andrew Dismore MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said:

"We have asked the Ministry of Defence to explain what appear to be stark inconsistencies in the evidence presented to our Committee about the use of inhuman and degrading interrogation techniques prohibited as long ago as 1972. The Government should now accept our recommendation that the provisions of the Torture Convention should apply to all of our armed forces' actions and ensure that our troops are suitably trained to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed for the UK to comply fully with our international obligations".


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:


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