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NGOs call for effective UK torture inquiry

Amnesty International and eight other NGOs have urged the UK government to ensure that its forthcoming inquiry into torture and ill-treatment of detainees held abroad during ongoing counter-terrorism operations is independent, thorough and transparent. In a joint letter to the head of the inquiry, the nine NGOs urged the UK government to allow victims to participate in the investigation.The inquiry is expected to examine allegations that UK authorities have been involved in or aware of torture or other ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and renditions of individuals detained overseas, as well as government policy and guidance to intelligence officials."Now that the Prime Minister has established an inquiry, and its terms of reference are being decided, we reiterate that it must be independent, impartial and thorough, and that secrecy cannot be used as an excuse to withhold embarrassing information from the public," said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Director.Announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in July, the inquiry will be led by Sir Peter Gibson, who is currently the UK's  Intelligence Services Commissioner. The start date of the inquiry is not yet known.In a letter sent to Sir Peter last week Amnesty International and the eight other NGOs made 11 detailed recommendations on how to ensure the success of the inquiry.The organizations called for a human rights-compliant investigation that will ensure that victims of human rights violations have meaningful access to justice and learn the truth about what happened.They said that survivors and victims must have standing as parties to the inquiry and must be kept informed throughout the investigation, allowed access to hearings and must be granted the right to legal representation funded by the inquiry.The NGOs called for the inquiry report to be made public and said that it should satisfy the requirement of full and public disclosure of the truth about UK responsibility for the human rights violations in question.They also called for NGOs to be allowed to play an active role in the inquiry.The other eight organizations that signed the letter are: The AIRE Centre; British Irish Rights Watch; Cageprisoners; Justice; Liberty; The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture; Redress and Reprieve.