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Al-Sweady Inquiry

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 12 March 2015

I would like to update the House on the implementation of the recommendations made in the report of the Al-Sweady inquiry, chaired by Sir Thayne Forbes, and published on 17 December 2014.

As I explained in my statement to Parliament, Official Report, columns 1407-1421, the Chairman made nine constructive recommendations, all of which I immediately accepted in principle. I said that I would provide more detail about how these recommendations would be implemented once I had had an opportunity to consider them carefully, and in particular to ensure that they would not put at risk the lives of British service personnel by unduly constraining essential tasks. The House will recognise that in developing coherent policy for the handling of captured persons, the Department must be mindful of the different operating environments and operational constraints faced by the different services.

I am pleased to report that the Ministry of Defence has implemented in full four recommendations (recommendations 3, 5, 7, and 9). These call for, respectively, the dating and retention of training material; the introduction of procedures to ensure the adequate recording of the capture of individuals and their physical condition on capture; the introduction of safeguards during the strip-searching of detainees; and provision for the recording of medical decisions on the suitability of detainees for detention and questioning. The Department has partly implemented, or intends to implement, the other five (recommendations 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8).

The third edition of Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10, Captured persons (CPERS) was published on 23 January 2015 and implements changes that anticipated three of these recommendations (recommendations 5, 6, and 7) in whole or in part. An update to this doctrine, which will make further changes in response to the recommendations, will be published within the first half of this year.

I have today placed in the Library of the House a fuller report on the implementation of these recommendations.