I got this message today from the human rights organisation, Reprieve, asking if I would like to sign a petition from them calling on Theresa May to stop Britain collaborating with Donald Trump in his support of torture and ‘enhanced interrogation’:
Donald Trump and I share an obsession – torture.
He believes it works. I have spent years working with people who have been tortured and I know that it doesn’t.
He thinks ‘even if it does work, they deserve it anyway’. I think torture is an affront to human decency and can never be justified.
He wants to bring back waterboarding ‘and a hell of a lot worse’. I want to stop torture for good.
Let’s start at home. Trump’s fondness for torture means that we in the UK need to unequivocally reject it. But Britain’s “torture policy” is weak and full of holes.
Will you join me in calling on the British government to close the torture loopholes now?
Theresa May is telling us that the existing torture policy is good enough – but in reality it leaves us open to repeating the grave mistakes of our recent past.
We can never again allow torture to be ushered in under a different name. The CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques included horrific abuses like waterboarding, keeping prisoners in small boxes, and so-called “rectal rehydration”. Our torture regulations are still all too vulnerable to this sinister sleight of hand.
And we cannot simply allow others to do our dirty work – all the while sticking our fingers in our ears and insisting we can’t hear the screams coming from the interrogation room. Our torture regulations rely heavily on the vague assurances of torturers that our agencies could be all too tempted to accept.
Theresa May can fix this by updating Britain’s torture guidance. Will you support our call on the UK government to unequivocally reject torture?
Last time, British agencies shamefully followed the US into a dark world of secret prisons and appalling abuses.
This time, we have to say no.
Thanks for being part of it.
Clive Stafford Smith
I’ve signed the petition as not only does torture not work, it is an affront to humanity, as Mr Smith has said. And all too often it has been inflicted on innocents, who have been subjected to barbarities too horrific to be described, by the extreme right-wing collaborators and agents of American foreign policy.
If you want to sign the petition, you can find it at