Scots police to investigate CIA torture

John Finnie - Amnesty InternationalLord Advocate Frank Mulholland has ordered police to investigate whether the shocking US Senate report on the CIA’s programme of kidnapping and torture could lead to criminal charges in Scotland, after John raised the issue in a formal parliamentary question.

John pressed for an update on Police Scotland’s 18-month-long investigation into the use of Scottish airports by CIA ‘rendition’ flights, and asked that the evidence of the shocking US Senate report released yesterday be taken into consideration.

Mr Mulholland ordered Police Scotland to reopen the investigation into rendition flights in June last year, but little information on the progress of the inquiry has been forthcoming, leading John to question whether it has been given sufficient priority. He said today:

“If there were any doubt, the Senate report confirms that the CIA operated a brutally violent, international criminal enterprise over the seven years from September the 11th. Even for someone who has been following the widespread abuse of human rights in the name of the ‘War on Terror’, the details revealed in this document are shocking and upsetting.

“Even the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee now concludes that the United States, through the CIA, is guilty of torture.

“I hope this report and the explicit evidence it contains will now spur the Scottish authorities to make more progress in the criminal inquiry into the CIA’s use of Scottish airports as part of kidnap and torture programme. This is not an historic investigation; the overwhelming likelihood is that very many of those responsible continue to be active, and some responsible for the political direction of the Agency still hold very senior office in the United States.

“Given the Senate Committee’s conclusion that CIA leaders lied about their activities to policymakers, there is no reason to be complacent about the possibility that these crimes continue in some form.

“Today, International Human Rights Day, marks the one-year anniversary of the Scottish National Action Plan which Nicola Sturgeon launched with intention of making Scotland a ‘beacon’ of human rights. We owe it to ourselves, to the international community and most importantly to the CIA’s victims to live up to that ambition in our investigation of these terrible crimes.”

Torture anywhere in the world is a crime in Scots law under the terms of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, the same law that allowed Augusto Pinochet to be arrested in the UK for torture carried out in Chile. There are additionally a variety of criminal offences which may have been committed on Scottish soil by virtue of the use of Scottish airports to refuel CIA aircraft.

John’s question, lodged at Holyrood this morning, reads:

Question S4W-23608: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4O-02812 by the Lord Advocate on 22 January 2014 (Official Report, c. 26845), what progress has been made by the investigation on the use of Scotland’s airports for rendition flights and whether the terms of the investigation will be amended in light of the publication of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence’s report, Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

John is the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on Human Rights. This evening, he will be hosting a reception, jointly with Amnesty International, reflecting on the first year of the Scottish National Action Plan for Human Rights and on the human rights situation in Scotland and around the world. The event will be addressed by Humza Yousaf MSP, the Minister for External Affairs and International Development.