Junio 11, 2007

CIA flights: UK police chiefs accused of 'whitewash'

Police chiefs accused of 'whitewash' over British links to CIA torture flights
By Marie Woolf, Political Editor
Published: 10 June 2007

The police have been accused of "spinning" the facts on CIA torture flights after they claimed they had conducted an 18-month inquiry that found no evidence of collusion by Britain.

Shami Chakrabarti of the civil rights group Liberty accused chief police officers of a "whitewash" for having denied the UK had allowed the CIA to use its airports to take terror suspects to secret prisons. She questioned the timing of the statement, saying it was "miraculous" that, after 18 months, the police had released their findings just as the Council of Europe, the human rights organisation, found Britain did help the CIA fly terror suspects to prisons.

Last weekend, a plane repeatedly linked to CIA torture flights was spotted land- ing in the UK. The aircraft, which MEPs say has been involved in "ghost flights", was logged arriving at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

The CoE report said the CIA ran dark prisons in Poland and Romania after 9/11, and Britain had provided support by allowing agency planes to land at UK military and civilian airports.

The Association of Chief Police Officers had said there was "no evidence UK airports were used to transport people by the CIA for torture in other countries".

Ms Chakrabarti said: "When politicians spin it is disappointing. When police engage in [similar] activity it is dangerous.This spin produced a whitewash."

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Mayo 24, 2007

UK = MPs seek guarantees for safety of rendition captives

By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
Published: 24 May 2007

Pressure is increasing on Gordon Brown to adopt tougher safeguards against alleged "torture" flights carrying suspected terrorists to secret locations.

An all-party group of senior MPs has called for a change in the law to require written guarantees about the protection of the prisoners before Britain allows its airports to be used for the so-called "extraordinary rendition" flights by the US.

In a separate development, the Intelligence and Security Committee, which is chaired by former cabinet minister Paul Murphy and reports directly to the Prime Minister, is also due to deliver a report on its investigation into Britain's role in extraordinary rendition.

That report is likely to contain criticism of the way that the system abuses human rights and over the failure by the UK authorities to keep any proper records of the flights through British airports.

The all-party group on extraordinary rendition said the system was "morally questionable and also risks placing the UK in breach of domestic and international obligations".

The group's Tory chairman, Andrew Tyrie, has written to the Intelligence and Security Committee urging it to condemn the practice. He said the US authorities denied the use of torture but it was believed maltreatment of suspects included extended sleep deprivation, inducing hypothermia and sensory deprivation.

The British Government at first denied any knowledge of rendition, but in 2005 confirmed it had allowed two rendition flights and turned two down in 1998. But a European council report suggested there were up to 170 flights by CIA planes through Britain which were used for rendition.

"It is apparent that adequate records do not appear to have been kept," Mr Tyrie said. "Secondly, as far as we can be aware, the Government has not made any attempt to put in place a mechanism for ensuring that renditions do not take place in the future through UK airspace or territory. We have a moral dilemma: we are benefiting from the unacceptable activities of our closest ally; activities which the UK specifically prohibits in law."

The US President, George Bush, has claimed that the extraordinary rendition had helped to avert a terrorist plot to bomb Heathrow. But Mr Tyrie said it undermined the rule of law and alienated moderate Muslim opinion.

The evidence that rendition exists has been underlined by three cases said Mr Tyrie: the Canadian case of Maher Arar, picked up in New York; the German case of Khaled Masri, held in Macedonia; and the Italian case of Abu Omar, kidnapped from Milan.

The all-party group is proposing the forthcoming Counter Terrorism Bill could be used to change the law to require an advance declaration of a rendition before British airports can be used; written assurances that its laws will not be contravened; and details of the final location and the purpose of the transfer of the suspect. It could also require the suspect to be identified.


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Mayo 5, 2007

UK - Death certificates to be issued to the families of the Disappeared victims

Hain move to ease suffering of relatives

Saturday, May 05, 2007

By Sam Lister

New laws are being brought in to help ease the decades of misery suffered by the families of the Disappeared.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain yesterday pledged to introduce legislation allowing death certificates to be issued in cases where bodies of suspected IRA victims have never been found.

Nine victims, all believed to have been abducted, murdered and secretly buried, have never been discovered.

Mr Hain said: "For the families of those whose remains cannot be located, the fact remains that without a body being found it is not possible, under the law as it stands for the deaths to be registered and a certificate issued.

"The families have expressed the view to NIO ministers that having a death certificate would bring great comfort to them.

"While I am pleased that the efforts to locate the bodies of the Disappeared are encouraging and continuing, I am of the view that something should be done to help the families obtain some measure of closure.

"The Government has produced proposals for new legislation which would allow the deaths, not only of the Disappeared but other people who have been missing for as long as seven years, to be registered and death certificates issued."

The IRA apologised to the families of the Disappeared in 2003 after the remains of Belfast woman Jean McConville were discovered on a beach in the Republic.

She had been murdered by the IRA and secretly buried during the 1970s.

Since May 1999 the remains of five of the 14 have been recovered.

DUP leader Ian Paisley intervened on behalf of the McVeigh family to demand that their missing son Columba's body was returned.

He said: "This is a welcome step forward in helping to resolve some of the practical matters impacting on the relatives of these victims. I have taken a deep personal interest in the plight of the Disappeared. This cannot however be considered an end point for Government.

"I will not allow Government or others to have these families considered out of sight and out of mind.

"There can be no let up in our determination to bring resolution on this matter.

"I have raised this issue at talks with Government, the Irish government and with Sinn Fein and will continue to press for the needs of the families of the Disappeared to be met.

"I have not yet been convinced that Government and their counterparts in the Irish Republic have done every last thing they can to bring the maximum pressure to bear on those who may have knowledge of the whereabouts of these victims.

"As the new administration is established at Stormont, the needs of innocent victims of terrorism must remain a key priority for all of us."

The measures will be taken forward by the incoming Assembly and Executive, which will set the timescale for their introduction.

Mr Hain revealed DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson - who will become the new finance and personnel minister on Tuesday when devolution returns - had agreed that work on the proposals would proceed under his direction and that the legislation would be taken forward by the incoming Assembly and power-sharing government.

He added: "The new Minister of Finance & Personnel has agreed that work on these proposals will proceed under his direction, with the restored Executive taking forward the necessary legislation in its programme for the coming year."

The new law is expected to be modelled on the Presumption Of Death (Scotland) Act 1977, which allows families to apply to a court for a declaration that the missing person may be presumed to be dead after seven years.


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Febrero 9, 2007

Olmert asks Britain to protect Israeli officers from war crimes charges

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked the visiting British foreign minister this week to push for a law preventing the arrest in Britain of Israeli military officers on suspicion of war crimes against Palestinians, an Israeli official said Thursday.

British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett responded favorably to the request, said Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.

Israel has been seeking such protections for several years. In 2005, Doron Almog, a retired Israeli general, refused to get off a plane in London after he was tipped off he was about to be arrested by British authorities over a 2002 air strike in the Gaza Strip that killed a Hamas leader and 14 others, nine of them children. He flew straight home.

British police later canceled an arrest warrant against Almog, reports AP.

Beckett "was very aware of the issue and said they are trying to address and change it," Eisin said.

Karen Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, confirmed "the matter was raised." She declined further comment because Wednesday's meeting was private.

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