UK government urged to prevent US use of Diego Garcia for renditions
Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has called on the UK Government to restrict the use by the US of Diego Garcia, a British overseas territory, for renditions.
In a new report, the Committee said revelations that the US had used the Indian Ocean territory for renditions since 2001 – contradicting previous Foreign Office statements – had “severely damaged” the credibility of US assurances to the UK on its activity there.
The recommendation comes ahead of discussions on the 2016 renewal of a joint agreement giving the US the automatic right to use the territory for defence purposes. The report says the Committee “believe[s] that the two-year window for discussing the rollover of the 1966 Agreement on the use of Diego Garcia offers an opportunity for the UK to assert more strongly its position that the Territory should not be used for rendition […]”
The Committee also notes reports of discoveries by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the CIA detained suspects on Diego Garcia as part of a ‘black site’ arrangement made with the “full cooperation” of the British Government, saying: “If these reports are substantiated, we would expect to revisit this issue, to assess the implications for the UK and for public confidence in its statements on US use of Diego Garcia.”
Commenting, Reprieve Strategic Director Cori Crider said: “The Committee is absolutely right to focus on the lack of oversight on Diego Garcia. Years on, serious questions remain for the UK Government regarding the use of the island by the CIA’s torture flights. For example, we have never had a satisfactory answer on whether the US sought to use this British territory to ‘render’ a Gaddafi opponent – along with his pregnant wife – to the dictator’s Libyan torture chambers in 2004. Ministers need to stop ducking the question and come clean – then take steps to ensure such abuses can never happen again.”
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