France, Germany And The UK Cooperate With Countries That Torture

A report, published by Human Rights Watch yesterday, accuses France, Germany and the United Kingdom of sending the wrong message on torture by using foreign intelligence obtained under torture in the so called “war on terror”. The global ban on torture is a corner stone of international law for all nations either in peace or at war. The ban was put in serious jeopardy by the United States under the Bush administration after the 9/11/2001 attack.

The 62-page report, “No Question Asked: Intelligence Cooperation With Countries That Torture”, comprehensively describes the ongoing use of information obtained by countries that routinely use torture by the governments of France, Germany and the UK. The three governments use the resulting foreign torture information for policing purposes, which is strictly prohibited under international law.

Human Rights Watch says that the intelligence services in the three European countries do not have a clear protocol on how to assess and follow-up on information coming from countries with a track record of practicing torture. The human rights organization also says that the parliamentary oversight of such practices in each country is completely inadequate. Even worse, some public officials in the UK and Germany, just like some officials in the US, have made public statements indicating it is sometime acceptable to use foreign intelligence obtained under torture.

The Human Rights Watch report cites the cases of Djamel Beghal and Abu Attiya, who were both tortured while in detention, respectively in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, and in both cases the statements made by the prisoners under ill-treatment were used against them in a French court. Human Rights Watch argues that the use of torture intelligence in the fight against terrorism by France, Germany and the UK damages the credibility of the European Union.

Further, the practice of the three countries is in blatant contradiction with the EU’s anti-torture guidelines, which make eradicating torture a priority. This type of abuses, in the name of the “war on terror”, are not only in breach of international law but are also highly counterproductive because they justify the grievances that fuel radicalization and boost recruitment for extremist groups.

The global ban on torture under international law imposes some very clear obligations: States must never torture, no matter the circumstances, or be complicit of torture, and they must work toward the prevention and eradication of torture worldwide. France, Germany and the UK are not respecting the global ban on torture, and must be held accountable.

“Berlin, Paris and London should be working to eradicate torture, not relying on foreign torture intelligence. Taking information from torturers is illegal and just plain wrong. Europe has been forced to confront its complicity in US counter-terrorism abuses. It is time for France, Germany and the United Kingdom to take responsibility for their own role in third party abuse, and to ensure that their intelligence cooperation is not perpetuating abuse,” said Judith Sunderland from Human Rights Watch.

To read the summary of the Human Rights Watch report click here.


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