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Is British government colluding in torture?

Sir John Scarlett has said there is no torture and "no complicity in torture" by the British secret service. What do you think?

The head of MI6 told the BBC his officers were committed to human rights and liberal democracy but also had to protect the UK against terrorism. He also denied that British intelligence services had been compromised by their close relationship with counterparts in the US.

The Joint Human Rights Committee of MPs and peers recently called for an independent inquiry into the matter. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has also said it has grave concerns that British officers were complicit in torture.

Is the British government doing enough to ensure terror suspects are not tortured? Is it impossible to remove all risk? Can torture ever be justified?

Read the full story

Published: Sunday, 9 August, 2009, 04:38 GMT 05:38 UK

All comments as they come in

Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK

A good one if we are the ones that come out alive.
Ann Curtin United States

With that logic, I guess you can pretty much justify any extreme action you want and be accountable for nothing, right?

Very convenient
Bro Winky Canada

Pontificate from the safety of Canada all you want. I still know on what side of the dirt I'd rather be.

Ann Curtin, Annapolis, United States

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK

If that is supposed to justify torturing people, it can also justify committing genocide to wipe out terrorism.
Great!
Phosgene Gasse

Like Saddam did when he gassed the Kurds? Why is it that anti-war campaigners seem to favour genocide as being preferable to war, after all when 2 side fight it out it's war, which they are against, but if one side isn't able to fight back then it's genocide. Just look at how they only asked Israel to stop fighting and not Hezbollah.

Andrew Salter, Bournemouth, United Kingdom

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK

Terrorism is not that big of a danger that we have to loose our values to fight it.

Luc, France

If you close your eyes & allow terrorism to get a hold, you are in danger of losing all the values you hold most precious.
Freedom of speech, the right to choose your religion or not, the rights of women, girls receiving a education & even having an affair.

David Little, Thon, Belgium

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK

"Who cares if they are tortured, we dont..." :- Tony Rayner, Swindon, United Kingdom

"I do Tony..." :- [ThoughtPattern], Bucks, United Kingdom

So what are you doing about it apart from writing stiff letters to the BBC?, I can't wait for your serious, and I mean serious, leaflet campaign.

Maybe you should get a T-shirt printed up, you reactionary hero you.

What do we want ? Apathy,
when do we want it? Ah, whenever.

Paul, Wirral

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK

Imagines Bin Laden copying and pasting all the " yes torture statements" and using them to inspire the next generation of terrorists .....
irksome, sheffield

Imagine Bin Laden saying to his fellow terrorists, don't worry, keep quiet they CAN'T make you talk.
There are many groups who will actually protect your human rights - whilst it's almost impossible to prove you are a terrorist in a western court.
This WILL inspire the next generation of terrorists .....

David Little, Thon, Belgium

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK

The official government response is "no", so the answer is clearly "yes." :- Dan C, Wakefield, United Kingdom

Following your logic, Dan, the Terror "suspects" say they are innocent, so clearly they are terrorists.
Some foreign resident of Britain, caught on "holiday" in a warzone says he was tortured so clearly he wasn't.
You say the government is lying so clearly they are not.

your comment is clearly ridiculous and serves only to clearly indicate your current political leanings.

Paul, Wirral

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK

Look at what happened in the open u know how large the hidden could be

remember the Brasilian Engineer ?

that was just a "suspect" looking like an Arab , shot in the head ...

imagine what they do behind the walls !!!

salem, Saudi Arabia

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK

Of course it's not possible to ensure 100% that actions do not occur that could later be defined as torture; torture is a very broad term that is usually defined and applied to an action retroactively. A few isolated instances does not mean that Great Britain is "colluding in torture". Torture is detrimental to victory in counterinsurgency warfare, so one would assume that all British and Coalition operatives will have been given orders accordingly. Not everything in war is perfect, though.

Alex Lee, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK

It is better for ten guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be punished. This is a very sound principle of justice and should apply to any person accused of a criminal offence. It should not apply to terrorist suspects. You cannot fight terrorism wearing kid gloves.

Shamwari, London

Maybe it's more like, is it better to have 10 innocent men tortured than one free terrorist? Quite heavy for kid gloves...

Luc, France

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK

If that is supposed to justify torturing people, it can also justify committing genocide to wipe out terrorism.

Great!

Phosgene Gasse

thats not too far away from whats already happening in certian parts of the world. (and distasteful as it seems there are a few individuals who would advocate this aproach in the 'civilised' world as well).

torture and degrading treatment dehumanise people, once that happens they become much easier to kill.

thats why torture is a slippery slope.

[Laughingattheracists], livinginabritainofhopenotfear

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK

*sigh*

First, define "torture" and "collusion", then we can have a sensible discussion.

If torture is being placed under stress, questioned aggressively and given a little rough treatment, most of us who have had dealings with the police in any country in the world have been tortured.

And if we're suggesting that we can control how other countries handle their suspects, we're deluding ourselves.

potato lord, cardiff

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK

I dont like torture or even the suggestion of it, but if this means that we in the west can live with a certain degree of safety, why are we even questioning it?
Wake Up everyone!
AJ Wilson Briggs, Netherlands

Think about it, how many dead people caused by islamist terrorists in western countries? 5 000? Certainly much less. Now how many dead from car accidents, tobacco cancer, etc? Wake up! Terrorism is not that big of a danger that we have to loose our values to fight it.

Luc, France

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK

Human rights are for humans.

Biologically, I suppose terrorists are human, but psychologically and sociologically they are not.

Number Forty-Eight

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK

If I see a violent crime being committed by my neighbour upon some innocent passer-by and carry on as usual without intervening, pretend not to notice the body bleeding on my doorstep, and then blithely don't cooperate with police investigating the crime... am I complicit?

Legally, No. Case closed.

That's why MI6 officers closed their eyes, covered their ears and sang "la la la" while suspects were being dipped in boiling cooking oil, cut with razors and probed with sex toys.

[pistrix], United Kingdom

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Added: Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK

We are sending a hacker to the US.
The US are the proud owner of Guantanamo Bay, famous for torture.

Yes we collude in torture.

We have for years & we will continue to until the system is overturned.

[negativebert], Stourbridge, United Kingdom

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DEBATE STATUS

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