The British Army was supposedly forced to outlaw hooding, more than 40 years ago when internment was introduced in British Occupied Ireland, following a guilty of torture verdict, by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Now their latest tactic is secrecy and cover up.
For over a year, MI5 Director-General Jonathan Evans has been lobbying Ministers, claiming a new Bill’s measures, are essential in order to protect national security. The Bill introduced in the House of Lords, rather than the House of Commons, has had its second reading a week ago.
The Bill will ensure the secrecy of illegal practices, such as the circumstances surrounding the internment without trial of people such as Marian Price and Martin Corey where judges have ordered they be both released and the secret information for their internment ruled invalid.
Recent revelations of Britain's secret Iraq Torture prisons with UK soldiers beating innocent Iraqi men to death in black op jails, would under the new secret justice law, mean their torture will be hidden forever.Claims of abuse by British soldiers carried out in secret illegal prisons in the Iraq's deserts will be silenced by the new law.
A civilian died after being assaulted aboard an RAF helicopter, while others were hooded, stripped and beaten just as in British Occupied Ireland with internment, in this instance at a camp in the desert.A separate group of 64 Iraqi men disappeared after they were spirited away by two RAF Chinooks to a black site prison. A flagrant breach of international law occurred when this secret network was sanctioned by senior Ministry of Defence lawyers.
If the Justice and Security Bill become law, Ministers will be able to demand secret hearings to prevent the public or victims from ever seeing evidence.Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer, the chief British Army lawyer in Iraq during the invasion, said what happened in the secret prison network amounted to ‘war crimes’. It was his job to monitor treatment of prisoners taken by British, and the conditions of detention but he was kept ‘totally in the dark’ about the secret network’s existence.
‘This prisoner facility operated entirely outside the normal chain of command.I find it remarkable that I knew nothing about it at the time. What is clear now is that, if the Justice and Security Bill does become law, the truth may never come out.Colonel Mercer has now left the British Army also said ‘These are alleged war crimes, but what Britain did may never be disclosed. Indeed, the Bill may be specifically designed to prevent such allegations ever coming to light.’
Senior Conservative MP David Davis said the Bill seemed, ‘tailored to produce a cover-up. I find it astonishing that the military authorities responsible for the legality of prisoner detention were not even notified about these secret camps. If these allegations are substantiated, they amount to a serious blow to the rule of law.The Bill, if passed, would be another, giving Ministers the power effectively to instruct judges to withhold evidence in court cases.’ This precisely the issue behind the internment of Marian pPice and Martin Corey in British Occupied Ireland, where judges have ruled they be released but the Secretary of State Paterson in cohort with MI5 believe they are a law unto themselves, and can overrule judges and their own Queen with secrecy surrounding interment without trial.
One of the black site locations was an oil pumping station in the desert known as ‘H1’, where the 64 prisoners picked up on April 12, 2003. H1 was run by both British Forces and the CIA with brutal interrogation methods. One of the 64 men, Tariq Sabri, was kicked to death by one of the RAF regiment on a Chinook.Mr Sabri was buried in the desert without a post mortem. A leaked RAF report gives documented evidence of prisoners on helicopter assaulted while they were handcuffed, hooded and knelt on just like British Occupied Ireland. So much for British promises to the European Court of Human Rights. One man unconscious along with Mr Sabri were loaded face down one on top of the other. When they reached camp, Mr Sabri was dead. His hood fixed so tightly over his head it had to be cut off.The fate of the other 63 prisoners flown to H1 remain unknown with speculation some may have been ‘rendered’ to a US prison outside Iraq another illegal act.
A second torture camp called ‘Station 22,’ was established at a phosphate mine near Al-Qaim, close to the Syrian border. One man was stopped in his car on April 13, 2003, by British troops at a roadblock between Al-Qaim and Ramadi. The SAS and other Special Forces are known to have operated there. According to this man, he and his two sons were forced out of their car, continuously kicked, punched, handcuffed,hooded and then put in an armoured personnel carrier, where they were again assaulted again.
They were driven for 45 minutes, when his hood was removed at Station 22. This camp was not registered with the Red Cross, as required by the Geneva Conventions. The man a civilian with his sons were unarmed. Detaining civilians in wartime is legal only if they pose an imminent danger to occupying forces. Just as in British Occupied Ireland with internment, the beatings and hooding continued for three more days. Finally, the were all forced to stand naked and were brought into an interrogation room. He feared being raped by the British ‘It has been nine years but I can never forget that day.’
Over the following three weeks, many prisoners were brought to Station 22. Finally, after three weeks he and his sons were driven in a British Army vehicle and dumped on a roadway between Al-Qaim and Akashat. He later found his car burnt out where he had a substantial sum of money to repay a loan which was never returned.
Another witness, a lorry driver was stopped at a checkpoint who like the first prisonerwas hooded, beaten, taken to Station 22 and interrogated about alleged weapons of mass destruction. A British soldier kicked him so hard that two of his ribs broke. Another witness says he was hooded, punched and kicked at a roadblock and detained detained at Station 22 where he was interrogated about WMD while stripped naked and then dropped on the roadside after three weeks.
Lieut Col Mercer has said: ‘The allegations are blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions and UN Convention Against Torture. If indeed prisoners were rendered beyond Iraq’s borders, then this is potentially one of the most serious war crimes under the Rome Statute.’ The evidence of these three Iraqi men raises issues of the utmost constitutional importance. Who knew about these secret sites? Who was responsible for the interrogation of the detainees? Why didn’t the head of Army Legal in Iraq at the time know of them? ‘Most importantly, who gave legal cover for them? These and many other questions must now be answered by the MoD providing full disclosure of relevant documentation, including emails.’
But if the Bill becomes law, is little chance this would ever be revealed: ‘This is exactly the kind of case which the Bill seems to have been designed for. It has all the elements: alleged torture, the use of Special Forces, possible renditions of prisoners to foreign powers. The truth about what happened must be disclosed.’Like the camps, legal supervision of Mr Sabri’s death did not pass through the usual military chain of command but instead was taken over by lawyers at the MoD based at the Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood, North-West London.
The director of civil liberties group Liberty has said: ‘Lawyers and other officials must be servants of the rule of law, not above it, and if lawyers sanctioned these alleged abuses, they do not deserve the cloak of anonymity. The current Bill would make it highly unlikely that the truth of such cases would ever be aired in public.’
Senior Conservative MP David Davis said the Bill seemed to be ‘tailored to produce a cover-up’. Lieut Col Mercer has said: ‘As the senior military lawyer in Iraq, I want to know why I wasn’t told about any of this. For PJHQ and MODLA to have taken charge of an investigation of this kind is highly irregular.’ Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke admitted MI5 and other security and intelligence agencies have had a significant ‘input’ into the proposed new measures with MI5 Director-General Jonathan Evans lobbying Ministers and Shadow Cabinet members it suggests the same secrecy and cover up of illegal activity around internment without trial in British Occupied Ireland. Not surprising really as Ireland has been treated like the private testing laboratory for MI5 secret government for decades.
Meanwhile the British Viceroy in Ireland along with MI5 is to bring an appeal tomorrow against Martin Corey's legal victory against his internment. Mr Corey was released on bail yesterday by ajudge but his release was dramatically blocked by oder of British Direct Ruler, Owen Paterson and MI5.
Mr Corey was due to be released on unconditional bail after the High Court's Justice Treacy held that Parole Commissioners breached his human rights in keeping him behind bars. As Mr Corey was being released at the gates of Maghaberry jail to be
reunited with his friends and family, Owen Paterson blocked his release. The matter went before a second judge today where Justice McCloskey complied with the order to deny Mr Corey his freedom. The Court of Appeal will make a fresh determination
Mr Corey a 61-year-old from Lurgan, County Armagh, was freed on licence in 1992, having served 19 years in jail, but was interned in 2010 on the basis of 'confidential' or 'closed' information from an MI5 informer which now has taken precedence over a judicial ruling. Justice Treacy held yesterday that there had been a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. He found that the Mr Corey had been jailed on the basis of secret evidence, in contravention of his human rights.He also ruled that the Parole Commissioners had misdirected themselves in law and failed to provide a sufficient safeguard against the use of secret evidence.
Mr Justice Treacy ruled that the Commissioners should reconsider the matter and directed that Corey should be released in the meantime. However, lawyers for Paterson and MI5 later returned to the High Court seeking a stay from an MI5 approved alternative judge, while an appeal is prepared. Mr Corey's barrister opposed the request, arguing there was no jurisdiction to grant the application. Karen Quinlivan QC also claimed it had been inappropriate to put her client's release on hold following a hearing at which she was not present.But the new judge Justice McCloskey decided on Tuesday: "The stay which the court ordered provisionally yesterday will be extended until further order of the Court of Appeal."
In a statement, Republican Sinn Fein said that the move by the British government to overrule Justice Treacy's bail decision exposes the lengths the British state is prepared to go in order imprison Irish republicans. There was "not even a semblance" of due process for the veteran Republican, who has been interned without trial since April 2010. When it comes to dealing with Ireland and the Irish people the British state always reverts to the methods of the coloniser dealing with the colonised," they said.
"The norms of judicial process and the rule of law are set aside in order to suppress anyone who is prepared to speak out in opposition to British occupation in Ireland. The actions of Owen Paterson in denying Martin Corey his freedom givesthe lie to any pretence that the Six-County state is a normal democratic state. His action represents an attack on the human rights not just of Martin Corey but every person within the Six Counties who would dare to speak out against the status quo".
Mr Mac Cionnaith of Eirigi said, the "usurping" by Owen Paterson of the court's ruling that Martin Corey should be immediately released was "clear confirmation that a British government policy of selective internment without trial is operating within the Six Counties. Paterson's unprecedented intervention, and his ordering of Martin's re-arrest, is evidence that the so-called policing and justice reforms endorsed by the constitutional nationalist parties at Stormont are nothing more than a piece of political deception of the worst kind."
Sinn Fein Assembly member Sean Lynch has described the move as "outrageous" and has accused the British Direct Ruler of interfering with Mr Corey's release. The Fermanagh/South Tyrone representative said: "It is totally unacceptable that this fly-by-night British Minister, who is not elected by anyone in the North, can imprison someone without placing any evidence or proof before the court. The revoking of licenses on the basis of secretive evidence not available to the accused or his solicitor is damaging confidence in the justice system." He said Mr Paterson should now do the right thing and end this pointless legal appeal and allow Martin Corey to return home to his family.
The illegal farce with Marin Corey follows similar orders by two judges for the release of the interned Marian Price but again Paterson and MI5 overruled the release orders by the judiciary and by their own Queen. There is a joke currently doing the rounds in British Occupied Ireland as to which is the real palace of power in London, it certainly has no semblance of democracy or due process.There is also believed to be an extension of internment without trial being extended to London 2012, in the build up to the Olympic Games.