UK refuses to assist Police Scotland investigation into torture and rendition

By agency reporter
October 20, 2020

The UK Foreign Secretary has refused to assist a Police Scotland investigation into the use of Scottish Airports to facilitate rendition and torture. Dominic Raab ruled out asking the US government to release potentially vital evidence held in the unredacted version of a Senate into the CIA’s torture and rendition programme, in response to requests from the Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf. 

It was revealed on 19 October 2020 in The Herald that the Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, in July of this year, formally requested that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office make representations to the US Government over the unredacted US Senate Torture Report. 

Police Scotland have been investigating the use of Scottish airports to facilitate torture and rendition in 2013, and the Lord Advocate in 2014 ordered them to examine potentially vital evidence held in the US Senate report.

Mr Yousaf's request to Westminster comes off the back of years of campaigning by MSPs over concern about use of Scottish airports in CIA rendition flights, including calls in February of this year from a cross-party group of MSPs to make sure police get to the bottom of what happened.  

In his letter, Mr Yousaf notes: "We have, in the past, sought confirmation that UK airports were not used for extraordinary rendition flights, and that assurance was found to be inaccurate when the US government finally disclosed the use of Diego Garcia for one such flight. I am therefore inclined to seek the report itself, which should be a true and accurate picture, than to seek verbal assurances."

Mr Yousaf told The Herald that Mr Raab wrote to him on 23 September:  “The Foreign Secretary has refused the Justice Secretary’s request for the UK Government to make representations to the US Government to help secure access to relevant information about the use of Scottish airports for extraordinary rendition flights, specifically the unredacted information contained within the US Senate Intelligence Committee report.

“Mr Yousaf is disappointed, having made the request following representations from Reprieve, other human rights organisations and a number of elected representatives and in order that some closure to the events can be achieved."

Seventy three year old Saifullah Parach – currently detained at Guantanamo Bay without charge or trial  – is suspected to have been on a rendition flight that stopped at Glasgow's Prestwick airport. Mr Paracha has had three heart attacks and is in extremely poor health – largely as a result of the torture he suffered before his rendition to, and at, Guantanamo. 

Maya Foa, Director of the  human rights organisation Reprieve, said: "The UK Foreign Office should be ashamed that it won’t lift a finger to help Police Scotland’s investigation into torture complicity. Without obtaining this vital evidence from the US Government, Police Scotland cannot hope to uncover the truth. The Scottish Government must keep fighting for justice on behalf of those who were rendered – people like Saifullah Paracha, a 73 year old man still detained in Guantanamo without charge or trial”.

* Reprieve


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