Britain and the US are betraying the cause of human rights in pursuit of their “war on terror”, Amnesty International says in its annual report published yesterday.
Irene Khan, Amnesty’s general secretary, launching the report, accused the two governments of condoning torture while trying to keep their consciences clear. Britain used the language of freedom and justice in the context of Iraq, yet insisted that the Human Rights Act did not apply to British soldiers operating there, she said.
The British government was seeking diplomatic assurances from countries, including Algeria, to which it wanted to deport people. By seeking assurances for particular cases, it was admitting that torture was entrenched in those countries and was therefore, in effect, condoning the practice, she said.
“A new agenda is in the making, with the language of freedom and justice being used to pursue policies of fear and insecurity. This includes cynical attempts to redefine and sanitise torture,” said Ms Khan.
She said the US claimed to be promoting freedom in Iraq, yet its troops had committed appalling torture and had ill-treated detainees. She described Guantánamo Bay as “the gulag of our time”.