France/Germany/United Kingdom: Wrong Message on Torture

(London) – France, Germany, and the United Kingdom use foreign intelligence obtained under torture in the fight against terrorism, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 62-page report, "’No Questions Asked’: Intelligence Cooperation with Countries that Torture," analyzes the ongoing cooperation by the governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom with foreign intelligence services in countries that routinely use torture. The three governments use the resulting foreign torture information for intelligence and policing purposes. Torture is prohibited under international law, with no exceptions allowed.

"Berlin, Paris, and London should be working to eradicate torture, not relying on foreign torture intelligence," said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Taking information from torturers is illegal and just plain wrong."

The intelligence services in France, Germany, and the UK do not have detailed instructions on how to assess and follow-up on information coming from countries that torture, Human Rights Watch said. Parliamentary oversight in each country is also inadequate.

Intelligence services in all three countries claim it is impossible to know the sources and methods used to acquire shared information. But officials in the UK and Germany have made public statements indicating that they believe it is sometimes acceptable to use foreign intelligence even if it is obtained under torture. Such statements send the wrong message to abusive governments, Human Rights Watch said.

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