British Prime Minister Tony Blair addresses Parliament.
A new report from Human Rights Watch accuses the British government of softening protections against torture, abdicating its responsibility to pressure the U.S. against the practice and knowingly deporting terror suspects to countries where they are likely to suffer abuse.
The rights group also accused the Blair government of “whitewashing U.S. government abuses,” including the practice of “rendition” of suspected extremists to countries that use torture.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said British officials have no evidence that U.S. officials ever conducted a rendition using British territory or airspace.
“The U.K. government have not approved and will not approve a policy of facilitating the transfer of individuals through the U.K. to places where there are substantial grounds to believe they would face a risk of torture,” the spokesman said.
Human Rights Watch said Blair had failed to use his close relationship with President Bush to press for changes to policies such as rendition. “The U.K. is losing the credibility that it once enjoyed,” the report concluded. “The government’s determination to bend the rules on its own account, and its refusal to confront abuses committed by its closest ally, is a moral and political abdication, in defiance of international law.”