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Armed Forces: Internment Procedure

Volume 692: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the conditioning of detainees by hooding, ordering them into a stress position and deprivation of sleep to sustain the impact of detention prior to interrogation, as described at the recent court martial of members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment and others, is in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Convention; and, if so, whether it is allowed explicitly or implicitly by those conventions. [HL3560]

The recently concluded court martial of Payne and others lasted for 94 days. Evidence was heard from many witnesses, a number of whom referred to conditioning for interrogation, hooding, stress positions and sleep deprivation. Some evidence was heard in camera. The use of hooding, stress positions or sleep deprivation for conditioning prior to interrogation is unlawful as contrary to the Geneva Conventions.

These were issues of fact and law that would properly fall to be argued and determined as necessary in the court martial proceedings. In his summing up to the panel in the court martial on 12 March 2007, the Judge Advocate, Mr Justice McKinnon, said: “It is not necessary to discuss the lawfulness of hooding and stress positions save to this extent: stress positions are generally accepted to be unlawful as contrary to the Geneva Conventions and the laws of armed conflict”. He continued: “It is common ground that hooding was acceptable at the material time for good security reasons but questions of its general acceptability would or might arise if it was used for long periods in the heat of Iraq or if it was used for the purposes of sensory deprivation. This case does not stand or fall on a consideration of hooding. The real issue relates to stress positions”.