Public Interest Lawyers said method which included shouting at detainees should be declared unlawful
A Birmingham law firm has failed in a bid to have a British military interrogation technique involving shouting at detainees declared unlawful.
Public Interest Lawyers, based in the Jewellery Quarter, was part of a legal team who said the technique, known as challenge direct, amounted to “inhuman treatment”.
It involves a series of statements, delivered as a verbal “short, sharp shock”, designed to encourage the detainee to engage with his questioner.
Lawyers for Iraqi Haidar Ali Hussein, who was questioned in 2004 using an earlier and now unused form of interrogation, alleged the technique breached the Geneva Convention.
By permitting shouting, the MoD had not dealt with deficiencies in the previous policy, which had been deemed to be too aggressive and intimidating, the Court of Appeal heard.
But dismissing the claim, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones said: “The challenge is essentially to a policy authorising shouting over a short period of time measured in seconds and subject to the detailed controls set out in the policy.
“To my mind, the short, sharp shock authorised by the policy does not constitute inhumane treatment, nor does it constitute coercion, threatening or insulting conduct or unpleasant or disadvantageous behaviour.”
The court heard the challenge direct technique had been authorised for use 60 times between August 2011, when it was introduced, and February this year.
But it had only been used 15 times.
The judge said there were significant differences between challenge direct and the policy it replaced.
The challenge direct policy says interrogators must not “threaten, coerce, insult or humiliate”, he said.
The judge, who considered the case with Lords Justice Tomlinson and Ryder, said the use of the policy did not give rise to an unacceptable risk that officers might go too far and break the law.
But he confirmed videos viewed by the court showed numerous breaches of the policy, including the use of abusive and insulting behaviour, including insulting of a detainee’s religion.
Speaking afterwards, a Public Interest Lawyers spokesman said: “We find it staggering the court recognised the video evidence showed interrogators breaching the policy, but that the policy itself is not unlawful.
“The breaches identified by the court should indicate an inherent risk within the policy itself – making it unlawful.
“However, we acknowledge the court’s recognition it was right for the proceedings to be brought before them.”