Register Office, EdinburghOn Friday 15 April a delegation from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities handed in a warning letter to Scotland’s Registrar General asking him to make clear that he is opposed to torture and to cruel or degrading treatment and that he recognises the abusive nature of the Abu Ghraib prison regime in which census contractor CACI was involved.

Register Office, EdinburghRegistrar General Duncan Macniven has so far refused to acknowledge that CACI’s involvement in Abu Ghraib amounted to misconduct and that CACI could have been excluded from working on Scotland’s census for that reason.

Letter to Registrar General

Mr Duncan Macniven
New Register House
3 West Register Street

12 April 2011

Dear Mr Macniven


I am writing to you on behalf of Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC). We understand that you have indicated that you are unwilling to oppose the interrogation of prisoners in circumstances where torture or other forms of ill-treatment are intended or are likely. It may be that something is making it difficult for you to do this. If you need advice please contact SACC. We understand that CACI International, parent company to a major census contractor, is unwilling to condemn the detention and interrogation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq in 2003-2005, when abusive prison conditions were systemic, and that its employees worked there as interrogators over that period.

The eradication of torture is vital for the world. The answers people give under torture are misused by governments and other organisations to justify the spending of billions of pounds on bombing, assassinations, kidnapping and further torture. For example, false information on links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, extracted under torture form a Libyan man called Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was a crucial part of George Bush’s case for war on Iraq.

Because of the global and destructive importance of torture, the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 proclaimed and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, guaranteeing freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, and the right to a fair and public hearing. Additionally, governments of the world agreed the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit cruel treatment and torture, as well as outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment. Furthermore, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention Against Torture, which requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in territories under their jurisdiction and also requires states to prevent other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in territories under their jurisdiction.

Taking a stand against torture is not difficult. You need only to make a statement making it clear that you are opposed to prolonged detention without legal process, that you are opposed to torture and to cruel or degrading treatment, that you recognise that participation in a system of detention and/or interrogation where these abuses are allowed, or are known to occur or are likely to occur is in most circumstances illegal and in all circumstances unethical, and that you recognise that Abu Ghraib Prison was such a system in 2003-2005.

We hope this letter has made clear your obligation as a public servant to reflect, in your work and in the work of your department, the provisions of international law and the values of the Scottish people. Failure to do so would mean that your department is unfit for the responsibilities entrusted to it.

Yours sincerely
Richard Haley
Chair, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities

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