Glenys Kinnock MEP Attacks Government Over "No-Torture" Deals
Glenys Kinnock, a Member of the European Parliament and MF Patron, has criticised the Government's signing of "no torture" deals with regimes guilty of widespread human rights abuses to facilitate the removal of Islamic militants regarded as security risks from Britain.
A Labour MEP for Wales, and wife of the former leader of the Labour Party, she insists that: "There is no negotiation on torture. It is non negotiable."
Speaking as guest-of-honour at the MF's recent summer reception for supporters, she said: "The practice of deporting people deemed to be terror suspects back to countries with a history of torture based only on what the Home Office calls diplomatic assurances is in my view actually undermining the universal ban on torture.
"As the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has noted, the very fact that it is necessary for countries like the UK and others in the European Union to ask states to agree not to torture returnees in itself suggests this is not a safe or reliable practice.
"Engagement of any kind is simply not an option with countries which continue relentlessly to defy internationally agreed standards and values.
"I now see across the European Union what I can only describe as an obsession with counter-terrorism and migration and these issues I believe are distorting the possibility that we can focus on building human security and respect for human rights and democracy as key elements in efforts that we have to make globally to work for a more secure world."
Britain in recent months has signed "memorandums of understanding" about the treatment of returnees with Jordan, Lebanon and Libya, all countries that are known to use torture regularly.
UK efforts to obtain a similar agreement with Algeria seem to have failed, with the Government apparently settling instead for a "deportation with assurances" deal. Earlier this month, after Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika visited Downing Street for talks, it was reported in the Algerian press that he had "committed to provide guarantees to the British Justice, concerning the respect of human rights in the treatment of Algerian detainees which are supposed to be extradited from Great Britain."
To coincide with his visit, however, Amnesty International issued a report saying that the Algerian DRS secret police operate outside the President's control. "Beatings, electric shocks and the forced ingestion of dirty water, urine or chemicals are just some of the methods used by Algeria's security forces with systematic impunity," the report said.
At the MF reception, at Sugar Quay, in Lower Thames Street, London EC3, Mrs Kinnock also criticised interrogation methods used by US forces in Iraq. She said there should be no derogation from the ban on torture, adding: "This is something that the United States should understand. This should include what they call stress and duress techniques.
"What is happening in Abu Ghraib is a crime against humanity and cannot and should not be legitimised in any circumstances whatever. It remains a fundamental human right according to all who are denied their freedom that they should access to a lawyer and a doctor and the right to notify a close relative or another personal contact - and also, not be put under duress."
Paying tribute to the work of the MF she said: "At the Medical Foundation you have a deep and very unique understanding of effective treatments and strategies. The wonderful, courageous work of those that work here is about healing wounds, and that means medical help.
"But I think it also means an understanding that the Foundation needs to document the injuries so that the critical issue of impunity can be tackled, because it is the fact that torturers can get away with it that means that they continue to do it. They must be brought to book.
"I as a politician feel that we have a shared responsibility to empower survivors of torture, to eradicate torture and to work for an end to all dealings with those who torture others."
Some 150 MF supporters at the reception also listened to MF clinical psychologist Dr. Nimisha Patel describe her work with women victims of torture, while MF Chief Executive Simon Carruth outlined the organisation's plans for the future.
Glenys Kinnock is MEP for Wales, Labour's European spokesperson for international development and co-president of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States - EU joint parliamentary assembly.