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Detainees: Human Rights

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 24 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will discuss with Mr. Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights in the Council of Europe, the Secretary-General’s proposal on secret detention and detainee transfers, when he meets him on February. (181473)

The Human Rights Commissioner will meet my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, who leads on Human Rights issues. We considered carefully the recommendations made by the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe when they were issued in June 2006. However, as stated in my written reply to the hon. Member on 23 November 2006, Official Report, column 245W, the Government believe that domestic legislation and international legal instruments already exist to deal satisfactorily with the concerns he has raised. We stand by this statement and believe that there is no need to create new mechanisms such as the Secretary-General proposes. I wrote to the Secretary-General on 23 January 2007 outlining the Government’s position in detail.

The Government believe that the best long-term protection against terrorism lies in the defence of our freedoms and values. We remain fully committed to our obligations under international human rights law. We do not render people in breach of our legal obligations and we do not agree with secret detention. The Government oppose any form of deprivation of liberty that amounts to placing a detained person outside the protection of the law.