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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
UK 'will never condone torture'
Lord Falconer
Lord Falconer said the UK leads the world in opposing torture
The so-called war on terror does not allow Britain to turn a blind eye to torture, the Lord Chancellor has said.

Lord Falconer told a House of Lords debate that torture was an "affront to human dignity" and said the government would fight it "wherever it occurs".

Ministers have been criticised for seeking to extradite terror suspects to countries thought to use torture.

Lord Falconer said new rules to combat terrorism would always reflect "our values for democracy and tolerance".

Britain is holding a number of terror suspects from Middle Eastern and North African countries, frequently criticised by human rights groups for harsh treatment of prisoners.

'Without ambiguity'

Ministers are seeking guarantees from countries including Jordan, Egypt and Algeria that suspects would not be tortured or killed if they were extradited from the UK.

We will continue to uphold the example the United Kingdom has set for the rest of the world for nearly 300 years
Lord Falconer

"There is no doubt that terrorism can be dealt with while respecting human rights, including the right not to be tortured," said the Lord Chancellor.

"We condemn torture without ambiguity."

But he said the government was faced with "difficult practical decisions" involving the rights of UK citizens, those of other countries, and "intense pressure" to protect public safety.

"In facing the dangers posed by international terrorism, we have to ensure that those charged with protecting our security have all the tools they legitimately require.

"In adapting our legal tools to face new threats, we will ensure that we do so in a way that reflects our values for democracy and tolerance and ensures our continued support for the rule of law."

Lord Falconer, the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, reminded the chamber that the UK was the first European state to outlaw torture, in 1709.

"We will continue to uphold the example the United Kingdom has set for the rest of the world for nearly 300 years."

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