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British Report Accuses U.S. of Human Rights Violations

Friday, March 25, 2005; Page A15

LONDON, March 25 -- The United States has committed "grave violations of human rights" against prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament said in a report on Friday.

"We recommend that the government make it clear to the United States administration, both in public and private, that such treatment of detainees is unacceptable," the committee wrote in its influential annual report on human rights.

The report called on the British government to make clear if it uses intelligence passed on by other countries that may have been gained by torturing suspects.

The committee said it was "surprising and unsettling" that the government had twice failed to answer whether British officials receive information extracted under torture by a third country.

The reports said that "to operate a general policy of use of information extracted under torture would be to condone and even to encourage torture by repressive states."

The treatment of prisoners at the U.S. naval detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the rising threat from terrorism have sparked a heated debate in Britain about torture.

Human rights groups have criticized conditions at the camp and interrogation techniques such as depriving captives of sleep and subjecting them to extreme temperatures, some of which the groups say are akin to torture.

The committee called for better training of British troops on the treatment of prisoners to prevent further abuses of inmates like those seen in Iraq.

Four British soldiers were convicted last month of abusing Iraqi prisoners and other cases are pending, although there has been no suggestion that Britain authorized the sort of aggressive interrogations used by the Americans.

Lawmakers also waded into the debate over a European Union embargo against the sale of weapons to China, opposing the lifting of the ban.

The E.U., keen to boost trade and diplomatic ties with China, agreed last year to try to lift the ban by the end of June.

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