United Kingdom: UN Special Rapporteur welcomes partial publication of Gibson’s Report

LONDON (19 December 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, today welcomed the publication of parts of the interim report of Sir Peter Gibson. The early publication of the report was a key recommendation of the UN expert’s report* (March 2013) to the Human Rights Council, in which he called upon the United Kingdom:

“...to publish the interim report of the Gibson Inquiry without further delay, subject only to such redactions as are considered by the independent Inquiry team itself to be strictly necessary to safeguard legitimate national security interests or the physical safety of persons identified in the report. He further invites the United Kingdom to make a public statement setting out a timetable for the start of the proposed judge-led inquiry, indicating what its powers and terms of reference will be. The Special Rapporteur recommends that the shortcomings in the terms of reference for, and the powers of, the Gibson Inquiry should be remedied in the resumed inquiry, and commends to the attention of the United Kingdom the principles laid down in the present report, and in the report of the Special Rapporteur on torture on best practice for commissions of inquiry into allegations of this nature.”

Mr. Emmerson is studying the published parts of the interim report with a view to determining whether its contents have been made public to the fullest extent possible. He is however concerned to note that the Government is proposing to abandon its prior commitment to the establishment of a further judge-led inquiry to examine these grave allegations, and to entrust the conduct of the proposed inquiry instead to a Parliamentary body, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), which lacks effective powers of compulsion. He intends to engage with the United Kingdom over the terms of reference and powers of the ISC inquiry, with a view to determining whether it is capable of meeting international minimum standards.

“The Gibson Inquiry,” Mr. Emmerson said, “suffered from a number of procedural shortcomings which were identified in my March report to the Human Rights Council. The United Kingdom has, until now, indicated a commitment to the establishment of a judge-led inquiry to take forward the work of Sir Peter Gibson. I am concerned that this proposal appears to have been abandoned in favour of a purely Parliamentary inquiry which is likely to suffer from many of the same procedural shortcomings. I will therefore be urging the United Kingdom to ensure that the fresh inquiry is given the powers it needs to get at the truth.”

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-52_en.pdf


Ben Emmerson (United Kingdom) is the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. On 1 August 2011, he took up his functions on the mandate that was created in 2005 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and renewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three year period in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Terrorism/Pages/SRTerrorismIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – United Kingdom: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/GBIndex.aspx

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