[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March 2005, 16:14 GMT
UK agents 'not properly trained'
Solitary cage at Abu Ghraib prison
The report said British officers were at Abu Ghraib
UK agents involved in interrogations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay were not properly trained on the Geneva Convention, MPs have warned.

The Intelligence and Security Committee said MI6 officers were twice involved in interrogating Iraqis while they were hooded - a breach of the convention.

And when UK officers complained about US treatment of prisoners it was not followed up by American officials.

The inquiry was set up last year to probe UK involvement in interrogations.

'Policy breaches'

In a report published on Thursday, the committee concluded there was a failure to keep ministers properly informed about the interrogations and about concerns raised with the US.

Intelligence personnel deployed to Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq were not sufficiently well trained on the Geneva Convention prior to their deployment
Committee chairman Ann Taylor MP

The report reveals that British officers were "embedded" at abuse-stricken Abu Ghraib prison, but said they had not raised concerns and it was not clear what they had seen.

It was also possible Britain had used intelligence gained from "ghost prisoners", held in secret by the US and denied access to the Red Cross, the committee said.

Intelligence personnel from MI6, MI5 as well as defence intelligence staff conducted or witnessed more than 2,000 interviews in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq. The committee found "fewer than 15 occasions" when they had reported actual or potential breaches of UK policy or international conventions on holding detainees.

Chairman Ann Taylor MP said: "Intelligence personnel deployed to Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq were not sufficiently well trained on the Geneva Convention prior to their deployment, nor did they know that the UK had prohibited certain interrogation techniques in 1972."

MI6 officers in Iraq twice interviewed detainees who were hooded "as a consequence of this failure in training", she said.

"Additionally we have concluded that the relevant ministers were not consulted before MI6 and MI5 personnel conducted interviews of detainees in Afghanistan and we recommend that they are consulted prior to such interviews."

Hooding rules

The investigation looked at the role of British intelligence officers, particularly in the gathering of intelligence from suspects in US custody.

One incident, first reported by the committee last year, took place in Iraq in June 2003.

A detainee, associated with Iraqi's weapons of mass destruction programme, was brought in hooded and shackled by US guards.

MI6 officers thought this was for security reasons and did not realise the hooding was unacceptable to the UK.

Crucial role

The episode was confirmed in a letter by Tony Blair.

In his letter to the ISC about the hooded prisoner, Mr Blair wrote: "The detainee was brought in hooded and shackled by the US military and remained so during the one-hour interview."

He later told MPs information gained from interrogating prisoners had been crucial in "countering threats from Islamic extremist terrorist activity in the UK and elsewhere".

In April 2004, a second Iraqi detainee remained hooded during an interview with an MI6 officer, also unaware of rules against hooding.

The officer was said to have regarded it as reasonable under the circumstances to protect the identity of the detainee.

The report suggested that rules should be agreed with other combatant nations about rules on holding detainees, but conceded the US was likely to have a different interpretation of regulations like the Geneva Convention.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific