Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May: UK will keep condemning torture regardless of Donald Trump stance

Britain will not back away from its condemnation of the use of torture, regardless of the approach taken by Donald Trump's administration in the USA, Prime Minister Theresa May has said.

And she confirmed that the UK is holding to guidance which bars it from receiving intelligence material which may been obtained by the use of torture.

In the few days since his inauguration as President last week, Mr Trump has sparked widespread concern over his apparent willingness to revive the use of torture techniques, including "waterboarding" in which suspects are subjected to simulated drowning.

Asked about the use of torture in his first TV interview as President, Mr Trump said: "Absolutely I feel it works."

A draft presidential order made public this week envisages a review of interrogation methods for terror suspects, the possible reopening of "black site" prisons outside the US and the continued use of the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba to hold "enemy combatants".

Speaking to the Commons on the eve of her departure for the USA, Mrs May assured MPs that "we do not sanction torture, we do not get involved with that and that will continue to be our position".

And addressing reporters on her flight to Philadelphia, she said: "The UK Government's position on torture has not changed. I confirmed this yesterday in the House of Commons.

"We condemn torture and my view on that won't change whether I'm talking to you or talking to the President of the United States of America."

Mrs May was challenged over whether the UK would maintain its position - set out in guidance drawn up in the wake of controversy over British facilitation of the "extraordinary rendition" of suspects following 9/11 - that it does not accept intelligence that may have been obtained by torture.

She replied: "Our guidance is very clear about the position the UK takes and our position has not changed."

And she added: "We have a very clear view in the United Kingdom that we absolutely condemn the use of torture and that has not changed and will not change."

Speaking to ABC News on Wednesday, Mr Trump said he would confer with Defence Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo to determine what can and cannot be done legally to combat the spread of Islamist radicalism.

He complained that radical groups "chop off the citizens' or anybody's heads in the Middle East, because they're Christian or Muslim or anything else", while "we can't do anything - we're not playing on an even field".

Asked about the use of torture tactics, he said: "Absolutely I feel it works."

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen urged Mrs May to tell the President that the use of torture is "unacceptable".

Ms Allen said: "As we saw with protests around the world last weekend, there is widespread fear of an erosion for human rights in and by the USA.

"Mrs May mustn't flinch from telling the President some basic truths about the complete unacceptability of keeping Guantanamo open or of authorising a return to the use of waterboarding and other torture."

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