Thursday, December 08, 2005

Britain's top court bans "torture evidence"

LONDON (Reuters) Britain's highest court ruled on Thursday that information gleaned from torture anywhere in the world was unacceptable as evidence in British courts.

Rights groups immediately said the ruling sent a clear signal to governments around the world who are wrestling with accusations that they participated in, provided facilities for, or used evidence in court extracted from people detained as part of a CIA program known as "rendition".

The decision by the House of Lords to refuse evidence obtained under torture in third countries comes a day after the United States explicitly banned its interrogators from treating detainees inhumanely after widespread anger and pressure from European governments and the U.S. Congress.

"Torture is an unqualified evil. It can never be justified. Rather it must always be punished," said Lord Brown, one of seven Law Lords asked to rule on the issue.

Extraordinary rendition refers to a program in which U.S. operatives capture, detain and transport people suspected of terrorist activities to a third country where they are held.

Human rights groups say holding detainees incommunicado is illegal and often leads to torture.

The director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakbrabati, said the ruling sent a clear signal to governments around the world and Amnesty International called Thursday's decision "momentous".

"This ruling shreds any vestige of legality with which the UK government had attempted to defend a completely unlawful and reprehensible policy," rights group Amnesty International said.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the ruling would not affect its attempts to fight terrorism and insisted London did not condone torture in any way.

The British government had argued that a special tribunal meeting to decide if suspects were a threat to national security needed to consider all available evidence, however it was obtained.

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It is good to see the House of Lords putting the British government in its place , now they know that any evidence provided by torture can NOT be used as evidence we can again see a clear line being drawn between the actions of the UK and the actions of the 'terrorists' . There is still a long way to go but this is a good step


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