UK and US complicity in the torture of terror suspects in Pakistan (HRW report)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) publicou onte un informe sobre a complicidade do Reino Unido (e dos Estados Unidos) na tortura de varios detidos en Pakistán. O informe leva por título “Cruel Britannia: British Complicity in the Torture and Ill-treatment of Terror Suspects in Pakistan”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:
[…] This report provides accounts from victims and their families about the cases of five UK citizens of Pakistani origin-Salahuddin Amin, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Rangzieb Ahmed, Rashid Rauf and a fifth individual who wishes to remain anonymous-tortured in Pakistan between 2004 and 2007. The men were tortured and ill-treated by the military-controlled Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the civilian-controlled Intelligence Bureau (IB), or other Pakistani security agencies. Their abuse was part of a longstanding pattern of routine, systematic torture by the Pakistani authorities that has been extensively documented. The accuracy of their accounts of mistreatment has been confirmed by Pakistani and British security and intelligence officials.
Primary responsibility for the use of torture against these individuals lies with the Pakistani authorities. No one in Pakistan has been held accountable. The Pakistani authorities have not prosecuted or disciplined any security officers alleged to have been involved in these incidents, or indeed in any other of the myriad cases of torture. There is no sign that they have even initiated any inquiries. While deeply disappointing, this is hardly surprising –Pakistani and international human rights groups, lawyers, the media, the US State Department, and the United Nations have long documented torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances, and other human rights abuses by Pakistani government security forces and intelligence agencies taking place with complete impunity.
In Pakistan, torture often follows illegal abductions or “disappearances” by the ISI, other intelligence agencies, the military, or other security services. These practices are systematic and routine, whether in ordinary criminal matters to obtain confessions or information, against political and ideological opponents, or in more sensitive intelligence and counterterrorism cases.
HRW has no evidence of UK officials directly participating in torture. But UK complicity is clear. First, it is inconceivable that the UK government was unaware of the systematic use of torture in Pakistan. In the circumstances of the close security relationship between the two countries this would represent a significant failure of British intelligence. Reports by governments, including the United States, reports by NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, court cases in Pakistan, and media accounts put everyone on notice that torture has long been endemic in Pakistan. No one in government in Pakistan has ever challenged this in conversations with Human Rights Watch.
Second, UK officials engaged in acts that virtually required that they knew about the use of torture in specific cases. Four men –Salahuddin Amin, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Rangzieb Ahmed, and an individual who wishes to remain anonymous– have described meeting British officials while detained in Pakistan. In some cases this happened shortly after sessions in which the individuals had been tortured, when it was likely that clear and visible signs of torture were present. For example, Rangzieb Ahmed alleges that he was interrogated by British security officials shortly after three fingernails had been pulled out.
Further, UK officials supplied questions and lines of enquiry to Pakistan intelligence sources in cases in which detainees were tortured. UK officials knew that interrogations of these UK citizens were taking place and that torture was routinely used in interrogations. The UK was also putting pressure on Pakistani authorities for results. In this environment, passing questions and offering other cooperation in such cases without ensuring that the detainees were treated appropriately was an invitation to abuse.
Members of Pakistani intelligence agencies have corroborated Human Rights Watch’s information from detainees that British officials were aware of specific cases of mistreatment. They have said that British officials knew that Pakistani intelligence agencies routinely tortured detained terror suspects –what Pakistani officers described to HRW as being “processed” in the “traditional way”.
Officials describe being under immense pressure from the UK and the United States to “perform” in the “war on terror”, and have noted “we do what we are asked to do”. Pakistani intelligence sources described Salahuddin Amin, for example, as a “high pressure” case, saying that the British (and American) agents involved were “perfectly aware that we were using all means possible to extract information from him and were grateful that we were doing so”. […]
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