04 August, 2011

Updates: (1) Yugoslavia and the hunt for the suspects; (2) the Gibson "Torture" Inquiry

Yugoslavia - In July, it was reported that the last of the individuals wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was captured.  The Guardian 4th August 2011 - "The hunt for former Yugoslavia's war criminals: mission completed"    The recent appearance at The Hague of Goran Hadžíc marks the end of a hunt commenced in 1993 for 161 war crimes suspects.  He was captured in Fruska Gora National Park (60 km west of Belgrade) on 20th July.  It has been a lengthy and difficult process and has suffered from more than minimal political obstruction.  The persistency of the ICTY prosecutor is to be commended.

Hadžíc's initial appearance before ICTY was on 25th July.  Weekly updates from ICTY are available.

The Gibson Inquiry -  Human Rights organisations boycott

In the U.K., on 6th July 2010, the government announced an inquiry into allegations that British personnel were complicit in the torture of persons abroad.  The inquiry is under the Chairmanship of Sir Peter Gibson (a former Lord Justice of Appeal).  However, the inquiry has been dogged by controversy ever since its conception.   Civil Liberties organisations such as Liberty and Reprieve have been highly critical both in relation to the appointment of Gibson (who is the Intelligence Services Commissioner) and also the secrecy of the inquiry and the inability to question officials and operatives.  A further criticism is that it will be the Cabinet Secretary who decides what can be published and not the judge.

It is reported that these bodies will be boycotting the inquiry - see BBC 4th AugustThe Guardian 4th August and The Independent 4th August.

See - the letter to the Inquiry from 10 Non-governmental organisations (pdf).

Liberty makes its position clear in their article - "When is an inquiry not an inquiry ..."

The Telegraph 4th August reported that some in the region of £12m has been paid by the British government to certain individuals held at Guantanamo Bay.  This money has been paid under a confidential settlement between the government and the victims. 

Without the involvement of bodies such as Liberty, the Gibson Inquiry is highly unlikely to command any public confidence.

Sir Peter Gibson has been Intelligence Services Commissioner since 2006 and is in his second term of office which expires on 31st March 2012.

Related posts - Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance on reporting torture:  The All Party Group on Extraordinary Rendition.

Addendum: "UK's secret policy on torture revealed" - Guardian 4th August. 

The Guardian 5th August:  MI6 torture / interrogation policy prior to 2010.  

The Telegraph - Peter Oborne - "We covered up our involvement in torture.  Now we must expose it."