Daya Gamage, in Asian Tribune, 15 March 2019, where the title runs “Torture blood in hand, U.K. promotes Sri Lanka’s human rights in Geneva”
The US-Sri Lanka joint resolution – 30/1 – of October 2015 which directed Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka government’s military battle to defeat the separatist Tamil Tigers allowing foreign jurists enter the Sri Lankan judicial process is being reiterated in the latest resolution now before the UNHRC in the February-March 2019 40th session.
The United Kingdom on February 25, at the UNHRC session in Geneva, urged Sri Lanka to “implement in full” the co-sponsored resolution 30/1 of the UN Human Rights Council, which calls for a hybrid mechanism of justice to examining crimes committed at the end of the armed conflict. Addressing the Council’s 40th session in Geneva which began on February 25, the UK’s Foreign Office Minister, Lord Ahmad said the UK would “encourage them [Sri Lanka] to implement in full the commitments made to this Council to secure long-term reconciliation”.
The Core Group on Sri Lanka including Canada, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has tabled a resolution on Sri Lanka at the 40th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva. The 40th session of the Human Rights Council (25 February – 22 March 2019) is now in session.
The resolution is titled A/HRC/40/L.1 ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’. The resolution now before the UNHRC session specifically reminds Sri Lanka: (Quote) Takes note with appreciation of the comprehensive report presented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session, as requested by the Council in its resolution 34/1, and requests the Government of Sri Lanka to implement fully the measures identified by the Council in its resolution 30/1 that are outstanding. (End Quote)
A delegation led by Foreign Minister Tilak Marapona, under the direction of Sri Lanka’s president Sirisena, is now in Geneva, but one wonders what changes could be affected if the ‘foreign jurist’ participation – to investigate war crimes – is still being reiterated in the UK-sponsored resolution.
It should be reiterated here that the primary sponsor of the resolution, the United Kingdom, has blood in its hands during the period it was closely associating with the United States’ ‘Global War on Terror’ since 9/11 attack on American soil. In collaborating with Britain, since the United States withdrew from the UNHRC last year naming it ‘a cesspool of political bias’, Sri Lanka has completely handed over her sovereignty to Britain which was closely involved with the U.S. in abusing and torturing, and even murdering, terror suspects since 9/11.
Here are the facts:
British torture in the ‘war on terror’
Britain’s intelligence services tolerated and abetted “inexcusable” abuse of terrorism suspects by their American counterparts, according to a report released by Parliament on June 2018 that offers a wide-ranging official condemnation of British intelligence conduct in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Many cases described by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee involved British agents feeding information to allies, primarily Americans, for the interrogation of detainees who they knew or suspected were being abused, or receiving intelligence from such interrogations, without raising objections.
The committee documented dozens of cases in which Britain participated in sending suspects to other countries that were known to use torture or aided others in doing so — a practice known as ‘extraordinary rendition’.
Although British policy prohibited rendition, the Parliamentary committee found, British agents repeatedly aided other countries in sending suspects to places where there was a high probability they would be mistreated. In three cases, it reported, the British paid, or offered to pay, for renditions; they “suggested, planned or agreed to rendition operations” conducted by others; and they provided intelligence to enable a rendition to take place. Finally, in 23 cases, they knew of a rendition operation — in some of those cases involving British citizens or residents — and did nothing to stop it.
Despite long-standing allegations of UK involvement in prisoner abuse during counterterrorism operations as part of the US-led ‘war on terror’, a consistent narrative emanating from British government officials is that Britain neither uses, condones nor facilitates torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. A comprehensive investigative report by the European Journal of International Relations argues that such denials are untenable. The Journal has established beyond reasonable doubt that Britain has been deeply involved in post-9/11 prisoner abuse, and the Journal was in a position to provide the most detailed account to date of the depth of this involvement. It argues that it is possible to identify a peculiarly British approach to torture in the ‘war on terror’, which is particularly well-suited to sustaining a narrative of denial.
Allegations against British intelligence and security services involve abuses at Guantánamo Bay, other US military bases in conflict zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in detention facilities run by counterterrorism allies across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Overall, the Detainee Inquiry identified ‘200 or so reported instances of the UK’s alleged involvement in, or awareness of, mistreatment of detainees.
UK intelligence and security agencies have played a key role in identifying and locating terror suspects, apprehending them, and transferring them for detention and interrogation under torture by allies. The British role was either to supply the intelligence needed for the apprehension or to take part in capture operations as formal secondary partners, ensuring that they were not directly responsible for prisoners.
British intelligence agencies were heavily involved in the CIA’s rendition program, providing intelligence leading to the capture of suspects, or providing direct logistical assistance in rendition operations.
A specific case:
In October 2015, after 14 years’ detention without trial at Guantánamo Bay and repeated torture by the US military, UK resident Shaker Aamer was finally freed and returned to Britain. Almost immediately, his lawyers arunarat that he would sue the British government over its involvement in his abuse. Specifically, Aamer alleges that UK security and intelligence officials were aware of his mistreatment at the hands of the Americans, and were on one occasion present. In an earlier set of legal proceedings, Aamer had also alleged that British intelligence supplied ‘knowingly false information’ to US interrogators, which led to his initial capture, detention and rendition from Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay.
European Journal of International Relations in its comprehensive investigative report says:
There have been literally hundreds of allegations concerning UK involvement in prisoner abuse since September 2001, both within and outside the military theatres in Iraq and Afghanistan. These cases have involved allegations of direct participation in abuse by British personnel, as well as the provision of indirect support for abuses carried out by foreign government agents. In response, the UK government has consistently and categorically denied involvement in torture and other prisoner mistreatment, while simultaneously working to block relevant information from being released into the public sphere. This position has been sustained even as the government has established, or engaged with, a number of parliamentary, police and judicial investigations into allegations of British involvement.
Britain was able to fully exploit the public extension of sovereign power by the US government, allowing officials within the UK security and intelligence services huge latitude in the abuse and torture of prisoners, while, at the same time, maintaining a public commitment to existing legal obligations.