Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Torture and abuse issues in UK

The U.S. is not alone in facing torture issues. Newsweek has a long article about current UK investigations. Excerpt:
[Director of Service Prosecutions Andrew Cayley QC] couldn’t comment on [attorney Phil] Shiner’s estimate of how long the Iraq allegations might take to complete. That was a matter for IHAT. At the investigation stage, his team’s involvement is advisory. Every six to eight weeks, members of the SPA’s Iraq Historic Allegations Prosecutions Team, meet with IHAT to review the progress of cases. Cayley says they “discuss what steps need to be taken in order to bottom this out as far as we can with the resources we have.” But resources are limited. The SPA’s Iraq team is currently staffed with five lawyers. None of them is serving army personnel. One is from the RAF, another from the navy, a retired Air Force lawyer has just joined and there are two civilian lawyers seconded from the Crown Prosecution Service. Cayley’s predecessor, Bruce Holder QC, decided to bring them in “out of an abundance of caution,” says Cayley. It was decided that there should be a “Chinese wall” to avoid claims of lack of independence, the same criticism that was directed at IHAT when first established.
Whatever manpower is available, the number of prosecutions that have been brought since IHAT began its operations in 2010 remains fixed: none. But the SPA has to do more than advise on individual cases. Its lawyers also have to think about systemic issues: those patterns that indicate some criminal responsibility higher up the command chain for illegal interrogation or detention methods used as standard operating procedure in Iraq.
“These are evidence-led investigations,” Cayley stresses. “The minds of all of us are open to systemic issues. At the moment I make no comment at all about whether there is any evidence that exists.” But Cayley is convinced that IHAT is looking carefully. “There are policies in place so that if evidence does arise that demonstrate systemic matters, it will be picked up . . . it is in people’s minds”. And, says Cayley, “Trust me. I will recognise it when I see it.’

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