The FCO's Human Rights Work 2010-11 - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Written evidence from Mr Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman, All-Party Group on Extraordinary Rendition[88]

The Foreign Office's 2010 Human Rights and Democracy Report addresses rendition and related issues, in particular the forthcoming Detainee Inquiry. I am writing in the hope that your Committee will be able to examine this issue and add to its important work on these areas in the past.


There are two issues of specific concern with Sir Peter's Inquiry that I hope your Committee will address.

Sir Peter Gibson has confirmed to me that "military detention operations should not be one of the key themes for the Inquiry".i This is a mistake. As you know, in 2004 two detainees were handed over to the US in Iraq and subsequently rendered to Bagram.ii Separate arrangements made by the MOD in response appear inadequate.iii Only a full examination of this issue by the Inquiry can obtain closure on rendition and restore public confidence. I hope your Committee will support this.

It is also crucial that the Detainee Inquiry secures all information relevant to its work. Simply accepting information from government and NGOs is insufficient. A more proactive approach is needed. For example, despite the conclusions of your Committeeiv and requests by me and others the government has persistently refused to ask the US for information about rendition "circuit flights"—that is, flights on the way to or from carrying out a rendition. Another example is Diego Garcia.v The Inquiry will need government support to request such information from those who hold it, including the US administration. It will also need an investigator to seek out information. Again, I hope you will support these proposals.


This is mentioned at pages 52-53 of the FCO report. It appears to be defective. It does not address rendition. It is also incomplete as regards unlawful detention. I have set this out in more detail, and made specific proposals for improvement, in correspondence with the Prime Minister (attached).

In a nutshell, whilst unlawful detention is addressed in the annex to the guidance it is barely touched upon in the guidance itself. The table at paragraph 11 of the guidance, which officers should use when considering whether to proceed with action in specified circumstances, makes almost no reference to unlawful It leaves open the possibility that despite concluding, through application of the annex, that a detainee was being held incommunicado, officers could nonetheless proceed without even consulting Ministers.vii This is inadequate. I hope you will consider recommending that the guidance should be strengthened on this point.

16 June 2011


i See Sir Peter's letter to me of 13 April 2011, attached.

ii See Rt Hon John Hutton MP, Records of Detention (Review Conclusions), 26 February 2009, Official Report, Column 394. Your Committee examined this issue in paragraphs 86-113 of its 2008 Human Rights Report.

iii I raised this with the Secretary of State for Defence in January (attached) but have yet to receive a reply.

iv Foreign Affairs Committee, Human Rights Annual Report 2007, 20 July 2008, paragraph 47. It is also clear that the government does not hold all information relating to the two renditions through Diego Garcia in 2002.

v For example, the names of the two detainees, where they were held, how they were treated, the specific dates of the flights and the relevant flight logs, etc. In relation to Diego Garcia, the following Parliamentary Question (dated 26 February 2009) makes clear that the UK government has "very limited specific information" about the two confirmed renditions through the island:
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 25 November 2008, Official Report, column 1201W, on Diego Garcia: rendition, for what reasons he has not passed this information to the police; whether he has examined the possibility that criminal offences may have been committed in relation to the two rendition flights through Diego Garcia; and if he will make a statement. [246740]
Bill Rammell [holding answer 12 January 2009]: We have considered the possibility that criminal offences may have been committed in relation to the two rendition flights through Diego Garcia. We have very limited specific information about these flights and, despite enquiry, have not been able to establish further details that would be essential for purposes of further investigation.

vi The only reference to unlawful detention is in the second row of the table, which states that where "there is a lower than serious risk of CIDT taking place and standards of arrest and detention are lawful… You may proceed…"

vii The annex highlights both the lawfulness of arrest and the lawfulness of detention (including incommunicado detention) as two of the four main heads under which standards of arrest, detention and treatment should be judged. While officers can use the annex to determine what might constitute unacceptable treatment, when it comes to determining what action to take once it has been determined that an individual is being held unlawfully, the table at paragraph 11 provides little assistance. In circumstances in which arrest and detention are unlawful, but the officer does not know or believe that torture will take place, row three of the table ("In all other circumstances") will be applicable. Yet the advice in the second column of this row refers only to "torture or CIDT". There is no reference to the standards of arrest and detention set out in the annex. This appears inadequate. The changes I proposed, attached again here, would improve the guidance.

88   Attachments not printed: available on the website of the All-Party Group on Extraordinary Rendition, Back

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Prepared 20 July 2011