| The real reason behind the confiscation of my passport!

The real reason behind the confiscation of my passport Moazzam Begg, Cageprisoners.


Moazzam Begg reveals exclusively why the British government has been conitually harassing him since his return from Guantanamo, and took his passport for the second time in eight years

In the summer of 2012 I wrote about the first of my two visits to Syria to investigate leads into cases of British and American complicity in the rendition of terrorism suspects to the regime of Bashar al-Asad.

This followed on from something I learned first-hand from CIA and US military intelligence agents who threatened to send me to Egypt or Syria if I failed to co-operate with them during my time in the Bagram prison. I made British MI5/MI6 agents, who were present at every leg of my unlawful imprisonment, fully aware of these threats. Their response was telling me that I had to co-operate with their US counterparts.

On my return to the UK, along with three other British citizens, I received a letter from the Home Office informing me that my ability to apply for a passport had been restricted by the Home Secretary under the powers of the ‘Royal Prerogative’.

Having returned from three years of separation from my loved ones mostly spent in solitary confinement and suffering the effects of regular human rights violations, I didn’t challenge the decision immediately. Instead, I tried to rebuild my lost connection to a traumatised family, including a son I’d never seen.

UK torture complicty

As part of my work for CagePrisoners, however, I began campaigning for prisoners imprisoned at Guantanamo and those held in secret detention sites or who had disappeared after being rendered to countries such as Libya, Egypt, and Syria. We conducted numerous investigations into recurrent reports of extreme torture carried out by the Syrian regime with the complicity of the governments of the US, Canada, France, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Britain.

I was also constantly being invited to speak all over the world about issues pertaining to Guantanamo, torture, the rule of law and the war terror. Thus, in 2009 I mounted a successful challenge to get my passport back.

My subsequent extensive travel abroad was greeted simultaneously by meetings with people in power – including unexpected praise from US ambassadors in Luxembourg – to armed police escorting me off planes in order to deny me entry to Canada (where I’d come to meet with men who had been victims of rendition to Syria).

Returning to the UK was often an ordeal in its own right as I would be stopped almost every time and questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This happened even on visits to Brussels where I was invited to speak at the European Parliament by British MEPs as well as trips to Malaysia where I had been giving evidence in war crimes tribunals set up by the former prime minister there. Often British police would ask me if I had gone to these places to further my claims about British complicity in torture.

During this period three very important things happened which I believe the British intelligence services have been unable to recover from:

1.     A major civil action was taken by 16 former Guantanamo prisoners against the British government and intelligence services for complicity in torture and false imprisonment.

2.     Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a judge-led inquiry to be launched into allegations that the UK was complicit in torture

3.     The Metropolitan police began a criminal investigation against British intelligence services into recurrent allegations of complicity in kidnap, torture and false imprisonment

In 2010 we won a major out-of-court settlement against the government after it was compelled to hand over documents that showed that British government ministers had decided we should be consigned to Guantanamo, despite evidence of mistreatment. At the end of the discussions with the government the then Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke QC sat with us all and listened to what we had to say. It was an odd moment, several of the world’s supposedly most dangerous terrorists sat in a room with a senior Tory minister discussing the previous government’s wrongs. I handed him a copy of my book hoping there might be some proper understanding after this but all the while the government was preparing the Justice and Security Bill – which was passed as law earlier this year – which would ensure that damaging and embarrassing civil actions such as ours would henceforth be heard in secret under colour of ‘national security concerns.’

The inquiry into torture by Sir Peter Gibson was shelved last week in favour of the Intelligence and Security Committee but in his interim report Gibson concluded that MI5 had at best ‘turned a blind eye’ to our abuse.

The criminal investigation is still on-going but I have sat for hours with the Met Police giving witness testimony to them about what happened in Bagram and Guantanamo and, they have gone to meet with rendition victims in Libya and continue to investigate the claims of Shaker Aamer who has been in Guantanamo without charge for twelve years.

Last year several former Guantanamo prisoners, including me, met with Asa Hutchinson, who had served as US Undersecretary for Homeland Security while we were captives at Guantanamo. In a report by the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment, which included him and two former senior US generals, they described the practice of torture by the US administration as “indisputable”. The report also stated bluntly that the treatment and indefinite detention of the Guantánamo prisoners was “abhorrent and intolerable”.  And the British government had colluded in sending us and keeping us there.


Visiting Syria

Following the uprisings of the ‘Arab spring’ I was able to make several visits to the Arab world and follow up cases of rendition, including the case of a man whose tortured false testimony was used as a justification for both the US and UK to invade Iraq.

In the July last year I also visited Syria where I met numerous former prisoners who had been held by the Asad regime as well as victims of US and UK rendition. One of the men, a Libyan who had resided in Syria had been rendered to Libya after phone call by a British Libyan dissident had been intercepted by MI5 and its contents disclosed to Asad’s mukhabaraatDocuments found in the headquarters of Gaddafi’s mukhabaraat after the fall of Tripoli clearly prove British involvement.

A few months later in October I was called by MI5 who said they wanted to talk to me about my views on the situation in Syria after having read my article. I told them that they must be aware that I was investigating several leads regarding British and American complicity in rendition and torture in Syria. They called back after consulting with their lawyers and said they understood that and would still like to meet. I agreed to speak to them and meet at a hotel in East London. Both MI5 and me had lawyers present.

MI5 were concerned about the possibility of Britons in Syria being radicalised and returning to pose a potential threat to national security. I told them that Britain had nothing to worry about, especially since British foreign policy, at the time, seemed in favour of the rebels. At the end of the meeting I was assured by MI5 that my proposed return to Syria to continue my work would not be hindered.

I travelled later to Syria without incident. I spent much time accumulating testimony and information for a report on the situation of the current prisoners as well as the accounts of those who had been detained and tortured in the past. I witnessed the squalid refugee camps, I visited the wounded – young and old, I buried the young and old, I saw the carnage of the Asad’s killing machine and I saw the beautiful young faces of children aged beyond their years. I witnessed the harsh winter and saw farmers chop down their olive trees to warm themselves. I saw British ambulances, British fire engines, British garbage disposal trucks and British hospitals with British doctors and nurses almost exclusively from Britain’s Muslim community. And yes, there were some British fighters too.

I returned to the UK without hindrance, except for the customary schedule 7 stop.  I was briefly questioned about my visit by border police and returned home shortly after. I came back radicalised enough to speak at numerous events for various charities working out in Syria. I also conducted interviews with people on the ground that are close to the fighters to answer questions about any tangible threat to the UK to help allay the fears of the British public and intelligence services.


Schedule 7 stops

Since then I have been ‘randomly’ stopped under schedule 7 several times while travelling.

The last time this happened was last month when I was en route to a conference in Turkey about the mass-imprisonments and torture occurring in Egypt after the military coup. British police suggested that I might be going to Syria, despite showing them details of itinerary and return flights for the following weekend.

I was made to miss my flight but the police were prepared to rebook me for the next available one meaning that they were neither preventing me from going to Turkey, or even potentially to Syria. I refused as I would have had missed the main conference by then and returned home. However, they took possession of my iPad and phone and kept them for a week. Both items contained sensitive information and documents pertaining to CagePrisoners’ investigations on both complicity in torture and responses to the British government’s measures in tackling extremism.

In anticipation of future harassment at airports I began legal proceedings to challenge the constant stops at airports under schedule 7 and informed the Home Office, the border police and British airports about my intended travel via my lawyers. We received a response from their lawyers, which acknowledged the letter but did little else.


Change of language

The language and attitude of the British government has steadily changed towards the Syrian opposition especially since it has openly chosen an Islamic path. Britain went to war based on the falsehood that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Clear evidence of the use of chemical weapons, in addition to over 120,000 dead in Syria has not elecited any such reponse. And we are gratful for that. No one wants to see British involvement in Syria, especially the Syrians who know well what happened next door in Iraq.

As a result, however, the Asad regime is now regarded as the better of the two choices. That is why last week the decision to stop even non-lethal aid for western-backed factions in Syria was taken by Britain. But, despite there being no evidence of a tangible threat from British fighters returning Syria (the contrary in fact) and certainly not the type that might have been posed from the same in Iraq or Afghanistan because of the obivous presence of British troops, the government now wants to remove not just the passport but the nationality of Britons suspected of being involved in fighting in Syria.

Simply speaking the government has lost all touch with the reality on the ground and the enormous sentiments in the Muslim community regarding the Syrian conflict. Despite seeing countless convoys leaving with aid from Britain for Syria every month they cannot fathom that this is simply about Syria, not Britian.


Losing my passport – again

After a trip to South Africa last week – which had coincided with the funeral of Nelson Mandela – where I spoke extensively about the complicity of the British government in rendition and torture, I was met upon arrival at Heathrow by officials who served me with a notice to seize my passport under the Royal Prerogative stating that it was assessed my previous visits to Syria had constituted involvement in terrorism. No explanation other than that was given.

I am certain that the only reason I am being continually harassed – something that began long before any visit to Syria – is because CagePrisoners and I are at the forefront of investigations and assertions based on hard evidence that British governments, past and present, have been wilfully complicit in torture.

How logical is it to stop me from travelling anywhere in the world simply because they want to prevent me from going to Syria? Numerous British citizens have been prevented from entering Turkey at the behest of the British authorities. They could have done the same with me. There is no doubt in my mind why this has happened.

It is these government-shaking issues are the real reason why I have been continually harassed and targeted by the authorities in this country. I am not and never have been in anyway a threat to them, except through my words, which simply call for accountability.

At a time when Islam and the Muslim community is facing an unprecedented attack via politicians, the media and ultimately some sections of the public affected by this onslaught, it is the aim of CagePrisoners and myself in trying to empower the community that is being purposefully undermined.

Since our aim is a good and just one I do not believe our detractors will succeed.



| Proof of Rendition: A Very British Cover-Up!

A Very British Cover-Up ~ Matt Carr’s Infernal Machine.

It’s the festive season and folks probably don’t want to hear about the complicity of the British government’s involvement in illegally kidnapping terrorist suspects and flying them around the world to be tortured by dictators.

Such things leave a bad taste in the mouth, and make the moral high ground suddenly slippery and precarious, especially for those who continue to believe that our government has been engaged in an elevated moral struggle on behalf of our democratic values and ‘way of life’ against the enemies of freedom.

Nevertheless, bad news doesn’t always come when we want to hear it, but it sometimes comes when the government doesn’t want us to pay any attention to it.

On Thursday, with the nation winding down and xmas shopping, retired judge Sir Peter Gibson completed a review of 20,000 top secret documents pertaining to allegations of involvement by MI5 and MI6 officers in the American ‘extraordinary rendition’ program introduced in the aftermath of 9/11.

Sir Peter concluded from his study of these documents that:

‘It does appear…that the United Kingdom may have been inappropriately involved in some renditions. That is a very serious matter. And no doubt any future inquiry would want to look at that.’

Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that the British establishment wants to. The government has announced that the ’27 issues’ identified by Sir Peter as worthy of concern will be investigated by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a body which the intrepid investigator Chris Ames has called ‘ toothless, clawless, and clueless.’

One of the suspects rendered was the Islamist Libyan fighter Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, who alleges that he was ‘rendered’ by the CIA in Kuala Lumpur, then to Bangkok while flying from China to the UK with his pregnant wife to claim asylum, and flown to back to Libya, where he was tortured.

Belhaj was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighter Group (LIFG), consisting mostly of veterans of the Afghan mujahideen who were looking to overthrow Gaddafi. But this was before the world decided that Gaddafi’s regime was an oppressive dictatorship and helped overthrow it.

In those days Libya was just one of various countries, such as Syria and Egypt, to which prisoners in the ‘war on terror’ could be flown precisely because those countries were oppressive dictatorships that were able to do things to their prisoners that our chaps generally preferred not to do in their own countries.

Golden days, and Belhaj got the full treatment. He was imprisoned for seven years in the notorious Abu Salim prison, during which time he was repeatedly beaten and kept in solitary in a dark room.

Since then documents found in Libya suggest that the head of M16 Sir Mark Allen provided the CIA with the intelligence that led to his abduction, and that British intelligence agents may have provided his Libyan interrogators with questions they wanted to ask him.

Belhaj was released in 2010 under a ‘de-radicalization’ amnesty presided over by Saif Gadaffi. In 2011 he became a de facto ally of the UK during the overthrow of Gaddafi he has since been trying to sue Jack Straw, Allen, and the British Foreign Office. The lawsuit involved £3 million in damages, but Belhaj has since declared that he will only ask for £1 pound, and that what he wants is for British complicity to be revealed.

Yesterday however, Mr Justice Simon announced that this is not going to happen, and that Belhaj’s case cannot go forward.

The judge conceded that Belhaj had a ‘potentially well-founded claim that the UK authorities were directly implicated in the extra-ordinary rendition of the claimants’. He also noted that a court of law rather than the ISC was the proper forum to pursue his allegations. Nevertheless, he rejected this possibility because – you guessed it – it would ‘jeopardize national security.’

More specifically, Judge Simon has pointed out the fact that American officials were also involved would damage the ‘national interest’ insofar as British relations with the United States are concerned.

And anyway, he says, the case is ‘non-justiciable’ in the UK because it involved officials in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Libya.

In other words, it’s ok for UK intelligence officers to kidnap or torture someone, and even for the government to sanction actions abroad that it knows to be illegal, as long there is an American involved, or these actions take place abroad and therefore become ‘non-justiciable’ in the country that colluded with them.

It is rather neat, when you think about it. But something tells me that our crusty and unaccountable establishment doesn’t want anyone to think about it too much.

Something tells me that it would like the public to put its feet up and take comfort in the thought that the security agents who are working night and day to ‘keep us safe’ from the terrorists who hate our values can do whatever they want, whenever they want, in accordance with the highest principles of an advanced democracy.

And if the government deems it necessary from time to time to depart from these practices, and send someone off to have their feet or testicles beaten, that is not something that concerns us.

Because reasons of state are not for public consumption. Is that clear? Good. Now off you go and enjoy your Christmas.

And remember, that we really are the good guys in this.


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| About time: Britain edges towards boycotting Israel!

Britain edges towards boycotting Israel ~ Redress Information & Analysis.

For the first time, the British government has issued guidelines warning businesses of the risks of trading with Jewish colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories, including potential damage to a company’s reputation.


New guidance, published on 3 December by UK Trade & Investment, a government body that works with British businesses in international markets, warns there are “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity”. It says:

The UK has a clear position on Israeli settlements: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. We will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

There are therefore clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity. Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. This may result in disputed titles to the land, water, mineral or other natural resources which might be the subject of purchase or investment.

EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals. Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice.

According to the Guardian newspaper, this is

the first time the UK government has explicitly stated its position on settlements… in advice specifically directed at businesses. It is part of a steadily stiffening position by the UK on settlements and their produce, an indication of frustration and anger at Israeli intransigence on its activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.


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Welcoming the guidance as “a step in the right direction”, a spokesman for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, Rafeef Ziadah, said:

The UK government has realized that its condemnations of illegal settlements are falling on deaf ears and has started to address the huge amount of economic support that the illegal settlements receive from UK businesses…

The government should now make it absolutely clear to companies like G4S that it is unacceptable to participate in Israel’s illegal settlements or in Israel’s other human rights abuses…

It isn’t enough to simply warn businesses about the economic and legal risks of doing business with settlements. The UK government and all EU member states have a duty to take a proactive approach to preventing businesses from contributing to Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Until that happens, we, as individuals, all have a duty to boycott Israeli goods whenever we see them.

For more information on how you can contribute to the boycott Israel campaign, visit the BDS Movement website here.


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| UK: Detention of David Miranda – is this a disturbing use of State power?

Detention of David Miranda – is this a disturbing use of State power? ~ 

Law and Lawyers.

Detention of David Miranda – is this a disturbing use of State power?

BBC 19th August – David Miranda detention: MP asks for explanation and see Cameron proves Greenwald right.

A new week opens with a disturbing story about the use of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.  The Guardian – Glenn Greenwald: detaining my partner was a failed attempt at intimidation – tells the story of how David Miranda was detained for 9 hours at Heathrow Airport without access to either a lawyer or others.   This post takes a brief look at the Schedule 7 power to question.

It is as well to begin with the Terrorism Act 2000 s.1 where the word ‘terrorism’ is defined for the purposes of law in the UK.   In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where –

(a) the action falls within subsection (2),

(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and

(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.

Actions within subsection 2 are those where the action – (a) involves serious violence against a person, (b) involves serious damage to property, (c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action, (d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or (e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

The word ‘action’ includes action outside the UK and the word ‘government’ extends to the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.

Terrorism Act 2000 s.40  is where the term ‘Terrorist’ is defined and, under s40(1)(b), it means a person who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Schedule 7 is headed Port and Border Controls.  This gives an ‘examining officer’ power to question a person for the purpose of determining whether he appears to be a person falling within s40(1)(b).  The officer may exercise his powers whether or not he has grounds for suspecting that a person falls within s40(1)(b).  The person may be detained for questioning for up to 9 hours from the time his examination begins.  Schedule 8 applies to such detention.  The use of Schedule 7 may or may not result in the arrest of the person –section 41.

Hence, on its face, the authorities are empowered to detain and question a person for 9 hours regardless of whether they have any suspicion relating to that person.  The questioning has to be aimed at determining whether the person is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Why was Mr Miranda questioned?  Glenn Greenwald’s article offers a possible clue:

‘David had spent the last week in Berlin, where he stayed with Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker who has worked with me extensively on the National Security Agency stories. A Brazilian citizen, he was returning to our home in Rio de Janeiro this morning on British Airways, flying first to London and then on to Rio. When he arrived in London this morning, he was detained.’

The activities of the National Security Agency (USA) and its British counterpart GCHQ have been in the news extensively in recent weeks -Watching the Law – International Big Brother.  This prompted Foreign Secretary William Hague to assert in the House of Commons that British security services had acted within the law – Statement of 10th June.    On 17th July, Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said that it was satisfied that UK security services did not break the law by accessing personal data through the US Prism programme – STATEMENT of Sir Malcolm Rifkind (the ISC’s Chairman).

The extent of governmental surveillance activities over citizens is a matter of enormous public concern and investigative journalists are keen to raise awareness of any such surveillance programmes.  It would be shameful if the Schedule 7 power were being used as a method of intimidation of either journalists or those connected to journalists such as members of their families.  Greenwald stated:

If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world – when they prevent the Bolivian President’s plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today – all they do is helpfully underscore why it’s so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.

Schedule 7 has been the subject of reports by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation:

Schedule 7 is the subject of a challenge before the European Court of Human Rights – (here).  In May 2013, the court declared the case admissible – see the admissibility judgment Sabure Malik v UK.

Joshua Rozenberg – David Miranda Detention: Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act explained 

Note:  Schedule 7 of the anti-social behaviour, crime and policing bill, which has completed its committee stage in the House of Commons, would cut the maximum period to six hours and introduce other safeguards.



| UK approves £12bn of arms exports to countries with poor human rights!

UK approves £12bn of arms exports to countries with poor human rights ~ The Guardian.

Committee of MPs says government should apply more cautious judgments when considering arms export licence applications.

Israeli soldiers stand on the tanks stationed at an army deployment area

Nearly 400 arms export licences for ‘Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories‘, for equipment valued at nearly £8bn, have been approved Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

More than 3,000 current export licences for arms and military equipment worth more than £12bn have been approved for 27 countries classified by the Foreign Office as “of concern” because of their poor human rights record, a cross-party group of MPs reveals on Wednesday.

Countries for which significant sales have been approved include Israel – the destination of the bulk of the arms sales – Saudi Arabia, China, and Zimbabwe, according to the arms export controls committee‘s annual report, drawn up by MPs from four separate select committees.

The chairman of the committee, the former Conservative defence minister Sir John Stanley, said: “The scale of the extant strategic licences to the FCO’s 27 countries of human rights concern puts into stark relief the inherent conflict between the government’s arms exports and human rights policies.”

He added: “The government should apply significantly more cautious judgments when considering arms export licence applications for goods to authoritarian regimes‚ which might be used to facilitate internal repression‚ in contravention of the government’s stated policy.”

The approval of nearly 400 arms export licences for “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories”, for equipment valued at nearly £8bn, includes components for body armour, parts for “all-wheel drive vehicles with ballistic protection”, assault rifles, pistols, military support vehicles, and small arms ammunition.

However, most of the exports in terms of value consisted of cryptographic equipment, used for decoding and encoding communications, the Guardian understands.

More than 400 current export licences to Saudi Arabia include vehicles, components for military communications equipment, crowd-control ammunition, handgrenades, smoke/pyrotechnic ammunition and teargas/irritant ammunition.

For the first time, the arms export controls committee’s report gives details for all 27 countries identified by the Foreign Office as being “of human rights concern”, the number of existing export licences and the nature of the arms and arms-related goods approved.

In the past, details of the licenses were published by different departments around Whitehall and not collected together.

The total value of the exports is not known because some of them are approved with open-ended licences.

The MPs note the government’s insistence that it applies “the same stated policy on arms exports and internal repression to Saudi Arabia as it does to the other states in the region and to states worldwide”.

That is, the government “will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or which might be used to facilitate internal repression”.

However, the MPs say, “that does not appear to have been so in the case of the deployment of Saudi forces in British armoured vehicles to Bahrain to protect installations, thereby enabling Bahraini security forces to end, sometimes violently, predominantly peaceful demonstrations”. Demonstrations in Bahrain were suppressed in 2011.

British arms exported to Bahrain under current licences include small arms ammunition, command communications control and intelligence software, technology for command communications control and intelligence software, assault rifles, military communications equipment, pistols, weapon sights, and components for machine guns.

The committee says current export licences for Israel total £7.8bn, for Saudi Arabia £1.8bn, and for China £1.4bn. Exports to China include cryptographic and military communications equipment.

The committee points to potential loopholes in arms export controls.

“It is most regrettable that the government have still to take any action against ‘Brass Plate’ arms exporting and arms brokering companies who have the benefit of UK company registration but carry out arms exporting and arms brokering activities overseas in contravention of UK government policies”, says Wednesday’s report.

The MPs say allowing a UK person to escape UK criminal jurisdiction engaging in arms export or arms brokering activities overseas, which would be a criminal offence if carried out from the UK, cannot be justified.



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| US + UK caught perverting Justice for innocent Yunus Rahmatullah!

Yunus Rahmatullah: the US and UK caught committing a crime together ~ guardian.co.uk.

A UK supreme court ruling on the unlawful detention of Yunus Rahmatullah exposes the complicity of Britain with the US.

Supreme court

The UK supreme court has ruled that the detention of Yunus Rahmatullah is unlawful. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Wednesday’s decision by the UK supreme court in the case of Yunus Rahmatullah, a man detained by the British in Iraq, might seem to be about the hallowed writ of habeas corpus. In truth, its main significance may lie elsewhere. The court identifies this as the first instance in 150 years where the US has “dishonoured” an international agreement with the UK. As the US has given similar assurances in a spate of extradition cases in recent years, Britain must unfortunately ask the question: is the United States to be trusted?

Rahmatullah, along with Amanatullah Ali, was detained in Iraq by British forces in February 2004. They were turned over to the US pursuant to a 2003 memorandum of understanding (MoU) that gave the UK the right to demand their return if there was any violation of their Geneva convention rights. Ali had been erroneously identified – by the British and later by the US – as a man called Ahmad Dilshan, the leader of a Sunni extremist group called Lashkar-e-Taiba. This was simply fatuous. Ali is a Shia rice farmer and therefore could not have been a member of LET, let alone its emir. He had a perfectly innocent reason for being in Iraq, as the Shia holy sites there were accessible for the first time in many years after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Rahmatullah likewise denies being a member of LET, and no evidence has been produced to prove otherwise. Indeed, he was cleared for release by the US two years ago, reflecting a finding that he was no threat to anyone.

The supreme court has ruled that the UK violated the Geneva conventions in various ways – it is, justices wrote, an “extreme” case. Rahmatullah should have been set free “years ago”. The MoU provided that the US would return Rahmatullah to the UK upon demand, and the UK was bound to make that demand given the violations of Geneva.

The UK government represented to the court that such a demand would be futile, because the US would not comply. The court was nonplussed by this argument. An MoU is “a well-established and much used tool of international relations”. A nation – particularly a “mature democracy” such as the US – is not at liberty simply to ignore its commitment. Indeed, the court noted, the UK and the US have entered into many such arrangements in the past 150 years. “Over this period” – until today – “there was no instance of any assurance having been dishonoured.”

In any event, the 2003 MoU merely reflected the international obligations imposed by the Geneva conventions, which the US signed on 12 August, 1949. Yet – as predicted by the UK government barrister – the US simply refused to fulfil its agreement. Rahmatullah and Ali therefore continue to face illegal detention eight years on.

What, then, does this case mean for other US-UK commitments? Can Britain trust the US to honour its promise to comport with human rights law, and not apply the “death penalty to prisoners” sent there for trial? Will the five Muslim prisoners who were extradited four weeks ago end up in an execution chamber, notwithstanding US assurances to the contrary? Perhaps Richard O’Dwyer will end up in a Guantánamo cell for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement?

The British government – pusillanimous as ever – thinks it is too sensitive a subject for us to ask the US why it is flouting an international agreement. The true explanation seems to be that the US and the UK have been caught committing another crime together – sadly one of a parade of conspiracies involving rendition, torture and targeted killings – and are now trying to evade the rule of law. As two justices noted: “It may be that both the UK and the US would prefer to leave the problem with the US authorities, rather than face up to what the UK would do with the applicant if he were to be transferred to them. That again is not a factor which should impress the court.”

Indeed, it is not.

Neither should it impress those of us who vote, or who care about justice.


| Colonial skeletons: Kenyans win ruling against UK in Mau Mau torture case!

Mau Mau torture case: Kenyans win ruling against UK ~ guardian.co.uk.

High court gives elderly Kenyans permission to claim damages from British government for abuses suffered during rebellion.


The lawyer for three elderly Kenyans who were tortured during the Mau Mau uprising hails the ruling on Friday that allows them to sue the British government Link to this video

Three elderly Kenyans have won an historic legal victory over the British government after the high court gave them permission to claim damages for the grave abuses they suffered when imprisoned during the Mau Mau rebellion.

The court rejected the government’s claim that too much time had elapsed for there to be a fair trial, just as it threw out an earlier claim that the Mau Mau veterans should be suing the Kenyan government, not the British.

The government’s lawyers accepted that all three were tortured by the colonial authorities. They suffered what their lawyers describe as “unspeakable acts of brutality”, including castration, beatings and severe sexual assaults.

After the ruling, the Foreign Office acknowledged it had “potentially significant and far reaching legal implications”, and said it was planning to appeal.

However, an estimated 2,000 other Kenyans – the survivors of more than 70,000 Mau Mau suspects who were imprisoned during the seven-year insurgency in the 1950s – are now expected to come forward to sue the British government.

Many more men and women around the world who were imprisoned and allegedly mistreated during the conflicts that often accompanied the British retreat from empire may also be considering claims. A number of veterans of the Eoka insurgency in Cyprus in the 1950s are known to have been watching the Mau Mau case closely.

Friday’s ruling came after a series of legal battles over more than three years. Paulo Muoka Nzili, 85, Wambugu Wa Nyingi, 84, and Jane Muthoni Mara, 73, were originally accompanied by a fourth claimant, Susan Ciong’ombe Ngondi, who died two years ago, aged 71.

Mr Justice McCombe said a fair trial was possible and highlighted the fact that thousands of documents had been found in a secret Foreign Office archive containing files from dozens of former colonies.

Last year the judge had said there was “ample evidence even in the few papers that I have seen suggesting that there may have been systematictorture of detainees during the Emergency”.

Martyn Day, of the veterans’ law firm Leigh Day, said: “This is a historic judgment which will reverberate around the world and will have repercussions for years to come. We can but hope that our government will at last do the honourable thing and sit down and resolve these claims.”