i hope you get cancer™

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Uzbek torture "routine" - Foreign Office

The latest Human Rights Annual Report, by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, catalogues widespread and systematic abuses of human rights by the Uzbeki government, and concludes that "torture and other forms of ill treatment are routine, particularly in the early stages of custody". Amid the diplomatic babble of condemning this and encouraging that, the report makes very clear the scale and nature of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, the failure of the regime to honour its international commitments, and the UK policy of "critical engagement." Chapter 7, dealing with human rights, international law and the "war against terror", sets out the UK's position (my italics):

We observe UK law in all our contacts with other states. There have been repeated allegations in the last year about the use by the UK of information from third countries that may have been obtained through torture. The Government has consistently made clear that it never uses torture to obtain information and would never instigate others to use torture. We condemn the use of torture unreservedly and are working hard to eradicate the practice worldwide. We accept, however, that when we receive intelligence from our partners we cannot always be sure of the circumstances under which that intelligence was gathered. The prime purpose for intelligence is to avert threats to British citizens’ lives. Where we receive reliable intelligence on such threats we would be irresponsible to reject it. We do not take intelligence at face value; our intelligence agencies evaluate the reliability of all information they receive. They consider, for instance, where the intelligence comes from; whether the source was in detention; and the source’s motivation and record.
So, on at least one of Craig Murray's fundamental points - the routine use of torture to obtain confessions - the FCO is in full agreement, and as Murray pointed out in his Radio 4 interview yesterday, the scale of the problem is such that information extracted from detainees is highly unlikely to have been gained without torture. And in the FCO's own words above, the Government condemns the use of torture except where it uses the confessions extracted by such acts. Classic Third Wayism, classic Blair: trying to have one's cake and eat it, trying to appear "critically engaged" (trans: say one thing, do the opposite).