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Anti-terror drive: Amnesty blasts Britain

The rights group targetted the government for giving police tougher tools to confront terrorism.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 19:34 IST

Leading human rights group Amnesty International (AI) blasted Britain for increasing the risk of security suspects being tortured due to its measures designed to clamp down on extremists.

Releasing a report which it said exposed the damaging effect of Britain's anti-terror policies on human rights.

AI Secretary General Irene Khan said, "There is now a dangerous imbalance between draconian actions the UK is taking in the name of security and its obligation to protect human rights.

"These measures tarnish the UK's image and its ability to promote human rights abroad."

Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has attempted to give police and prosecutors tougher tools to confront terrorism in the wake of the London bombings in July, which killed 56 people including four suicide bombers.

In the past five years, parliament has adopted three anti-terrorist laws, in 2000, 2001 and 2005. A fourth piece of legislation, put forth since the London bombings, is under discussion.

The report attacked Blair's government for detaining foreign security suspects "for years on the basis of secret evidence".

The group said, "These people are effectively being persecuted, with devastating consequences for the men and their families."

Khan said, "Most worrying of all has been the effort of the UK government to weaken the absolute ban on torture."

AI criticised Britain for seeking "diplomatic assurances" from countries "known to have a record of torture" in order to be able to deport foreign security suspects to those states.
Agreements have already been reached with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon.

Khan said, "In seeking special assurances, the UK is acknowledging that deportees are at risk of torture, but ignoring that these guarantees are unenforceable and not worth the paper they are written on.

"This is a shocking abrogation of responsibility and a massive blow to the international prohibition against torture and ill-treatment. The UK is setting an extremely dangerous precedent.

"Torture and ill-treatment is the ultimate corruption of humanity -- the UK must not do anything to weaken the absolute ban on torture under international law."

First Published: Feb 23, 2006 19:34 IST