[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 25 March, 2005, 02:45 GMT
Government silence in torture row
Guantanamo Bay
The treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees was also condemned
The government has been criticised by MPs for twice refusing to say whether Britain uses information extracted under torture by foreign countries.

The foreign affairs committee's human rights report acknowledged there were "compelling" arguments for acting on information about possible terrorism.

But it said using information obtained by torture risked encouraging it. The MPs urged ministers to "come clean".

A Foreign Office spokesman said the government condemned use of torture.

'Unsettling'

The committee said: "We find it surprising and unsettling that the government has twice failed to answer our specific question on whether or not the UK receives or acts upon information extracted under torture by a third country.

"We recommend that the government give a clear answer to the question.

Information extracted by torture is not only morally repugnant but also totally unreliable
Amnesty International

"The government should ensure that it is understood by other governments that the mistreatment of British nationals is unacceptable and will be met with appropriate action."

The report also condemns the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, saying now British suspects have been released there is no need for the government to keep quiet about the oppressive conditions.

'Blood-stained information'

It says ministers should make "strong public representations" to the US and raise the matter with the UN Commission for Human Rights.

A spokesman for Amnesty International said: "We share the committee's concerns at the government's apparent evasiveness over whether it has ever accepted and acted on torture evidence.

"It is difficult to avoid concluding that the government is chillingly indifferent over the question of using blood-stained information.

"We have repeatedly emphasised that information extracted by torture is not only morally repugnant but also totally unreliable and effectively useless."

The Foreign Office said it would respond to the report in due course.

'Smokescreen'

A spokesman added: "The government condemns the use of torture and has worked with international partners to eradicate the practice.

The government never uses torture or instigates others to use torture
British Government spokesman

"The government never uses torture or instigates others to use torture."

The report also raises concerns about human rights abuses in Turkey and says they must be ended if the country is to join the EU.

It also praises the Foreign Office's response to the Asian tsunami disaster but it says the Indonesian government must not use the tragedy as a smokescreen for human rights abuses.

On Darfur, the committee said the international community's response was "slow and inadequate" and lives had been lost unnecessarily as a result.


SEE ALSO:
Egypt jail trio rap UK 'apathy'
24 Mar 05 |  Middle East
CIA agents 'do not use torture'
18 Mar 05 |  Americas
TV 'recreates Guantanamo torture'
08 Feb 05 |  Entertainment


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


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific