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Diego Garcia: Rendition

Volume 464: debated on Thursday 11 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government took in assessing the assurances of the US authorities over the non-use of Diego Garcia for the rendition of detainees suspected of involvement in terrorism, with reference to the answer of 26 October 2006, Official Report, column 2076W, on British Indian Ocean Territory; what contribution the UK made to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights reports on secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states; what steps the Government took to ascertain whether the (a) processing and (b) other administration relating to the rendition of detainees had been undertaken on Diego Garcia by US agencies; and if he will make a statement. (157081)

Under the 1966 Exchange of Notes between the US and UK, of non-US and non-UK nationals who are not serving members of the US military cannot be detained without notification to the Government.

There is no US facility for foreign detainees on Diego Garcia. The only civilian detention centre is at the small UK-run police station.

The US authorities have repeatedly given us assurances that no detainees, prisoners of war or any other persons in this category are being held on Diego Garcia, or have at any time passed in transit through Diego Garcia or its territorial waters or airspace. This was most recently confirmed during the 2007 US/UK Political Military Talks held in Washington on 11 and 13 September.

The Government co-operated fully with the Council of Europe’s inquiry last year, together with an inquiry on similar issues by the European Parliament. At that time the Government explained that we had carried out extensive searches of official records and found no evidence of detainees being rendered through the UK, or Overseas Territories, since 1997, where there were substantial grounds to believe there was a real risk of torture.