Binyam Mohamed is a British citizen who was tortured overseas with M15 collusion

Binyam Mohamed is a British citizen who was tortured overseas with alleged MI5 collusion

In a welcome development a committe of British Members of Parliament has declared that victims of torture should be able to file suit in British courts against the foreign governments that tortured them.

The committe, called the Joint Committe on Human Rights, has called on the British government to take the lead in this area and set an example for other nations. They rejected objections that foreign governments traditionally enjoy immunity and that such a move would increase international tensions, saying that those considerations are secondary to justice and the rehabilitation of victims of torture.

The report stated: “The practical questions of foreign relations, enforcement and litigation procedure are important, but they are secondary to the issue we are examining, which is: should there be a civil remedy available in the UK to victims of torture at the hands of foreign states?

“We are of the strong opinion that there should. Such an action would be in line with our positive responsibilities towards torture victims under international law.”

It also said that the UK should expand international law so that victims get the reparations they are entitled to.

The committee’s chair, Andrew Dismore, is having his Torture (Damages) Bill reintroduced into the House of Lords. It was approved there last year but then stalled in the Commons.

That is such a breath of fresh air! Of course a statement by a single committee does not guarantee legislation or action, and the committee’s statments have been rejected by the UK Ministry of Justice, which responded that,

“The government has considerable sympathy with the motivation behind the Torture Damages Bill and with the situation of people who have been victims of torture.

“This bill could not work in practice and would not provide any practical benefit to victims of torture. In addition, it would place the UK in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Still, it’s always good to hear someone speaking out for justice. Torturers must be held accountable, and if their own governments will not take action (or if the governments are the torturers) then let them at least be held accountable somewhere else.

I think it should go further. Let their assets be seized, let them be tried in absentia, let them become isolated and imprisoned in their own homelands, unable to travel for fear of prosecution. All these dictators who travel to Europe for entertainment, gambling and medical care, let them become pariahs, unable to travel out of their countries.