Stop misrepresenting the facts – letter to Registrar General
Dear Mr Macniven,
I am writing to you on behalf of Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) to ask that you address the concerns that we have raised over the involvement of CACI (UK) in Scotland’s census, and that you desist from publicly misrepresenting CACI International’s record of involvement in human rights abuses.
In a letter published in the Dumbarton Recorder today you refer (as you have on other occasions) to “unproven” and “unsubstantiated” allegations against CACI International. As you must be aware, our objections to the contract with CACI (UK) are based primarily on the undisputed presence of interrogators employed by CACI International at Abu Ghraib in 2003-2004.
CACI staff interrogated prisoners held without charge or trial (as was normal at Abu Ghraib) and did so under US rules of engagement that permitted sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation and intimidation by dogs. These practices are undoubtedly human rights abuses, although they are apparently not so regarded by the US Government. These abuses are not “allegations”; they are matters of record.
In addition to its undisputed involvement in these human rights abuses, CACI is alleged by former Abu Ghraib prisoners to have been responsible (with others) for their torture and ill-treatment in ways that went far beyond anything permitted under US rules of engagement. These allegations are the subject of ongoing lawsuits in the US. They are not “unsubstantiated”; they are supported by very substantial evidence. They are, of course, “unproven” for the moment. You highlight the fact that the allegations were made 7 years ago. The slow progress of the cases through US courts is because CACI has so far refused to address the substance of the allegations but has instead chosen to argue that, as a US Government contractor, it is immune to proceedings under US law.
You note that EU procurement rules do not allow you to exclude bidders because of “unproven allegations.” But you do not address your failure to make use of the discretionary power provided under EU rules to exclude a bidder that “has been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting authorities can demonstrate.”
You say that your department is “fundamentally committed to ethical conduct.” If that were the case, you would be obliged to use the discretionary powers available to you to ensure that your department – and our country – is not associated with human rights abuses.
The abuses at Abu Ghraib, and the role played in them by civilian contractors, are issues of continuing global importance. It is absolutely unacceptable for a senior public servant to misrepresent the facts of this issue. To do so risks bringing Scotland into disrepute. I hope you will issue a correction to your earlier statements and that you will apologise for misleading the Scottish public in this way.
(Chair, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities)