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Torture probe 'a waste of time'

Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty saidd she feared the inquiry would be 'nothing more than a waste of time and public money'
Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty saidd she feared the inquiry would be 'nothing more than a waste of time and public money'

The inquiry into British complicity in allegations of torture lacks credibility and threatens to be a "waste of time and public money", campaigners have said as they declared they would take no part in it.

Human rights groups and lawyers said they intended to pull out of Sir Peter Gibson's inquiry following the announcement last month that the final decision on whether material can be made public will rest with the Government.

In a joint letter to the solicitor for the inquiry, 10 groups including Liberty, Reprieve and Amnesty International said they did not intend to submit any evidence or attend any further meetings with the inquiry team.

Lawyers representing former Guantanamo Bay detainees also said they were pulling out, saying there was "no comprehension on the part of the Government of the gravity of the crimes which representatives of the state may have committed".

But a spokeswoman for the inquiry insisted it would still go ahead, adding that it offered "detainees and anyone else with evidence relevant to its terms of reference the only opportunity for them to give evidence to an independent inquiry".

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "If this inquiry proceeds without the participation of the victims it will be nothing more than a waste of time and public money. Until a credible, independent process is established this shameful chapter of the war on terror continues.

"A year ago the Government accepted praise for the promise of a public inquiry - but the result, involving sidelining victims and a presumption of secrecy, is nothing of the kind."

The campaigners' concerns centre on how the final decision on what can be made public rests with the Cabinet Secretary, and on how former detainees and their lawyers will not be able to question intelligence officials.

In the letter, the campaigners said the current protocols for the inquiry would not comply with Article Three of the European Convention on Human Rights. It was signed by campaigners the Aire centre, Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, Cageprisoners, Freedom from Torture, Human Rights Watch, Justice, Liberty, Redress and Reprieve.

In a second letter, lawyers for several former detainees added: "We consider it impossible to advise those whom we represent that the structure and protocols now confirmed for the Gibson inquiry can achieve what are essential ingredients for a public inquiry into grave state crimes."



From Belfast Telegraph