UK government apologises for its role in the abduction and torture of Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar
17th May 2018: The British government has apologised to Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar for the UK’s role in their 2004 abduction, torture, and rendition to Libya. Former SRT grantee Reprieve has worked on Belhaj and Boudchar’s case for a number of years.
The apology, delivered on 10th May 2018 in Parliament by the Attorney General Jeremy Wright, comes in a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to the family. It follows a mediation with the government and a personal meeting between the Attorney General and the couple, in which they described their ordeal.
The apology is unprecedented in scope for a ‘war on terror’ case. It says that the couple’s ‘harrowing experiences… [are] deeply troubling’, and that the UK government ‘believes [their] accounts’ of their abduction and torture. The apology accepts that the UK’s actions ‘contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering’, and that UK officials wrongly ‘sought information about and from’ Mr Belhaj during his detention and torture in Gaddafi’s Libya.
Cori Crider, Reprieve’s counsel to the family, said, ‘This is not just Abdul-Hakim and Fatima’s victory. It is a victory for everyone who opposes injustice, secret detention, and torture. We are gratified by today’s apology and respect the sincere spirit in which it was given.’
Abdul-Hakim Belhaj said, ‘I welcome and accept the Prime Minister’s apology, and I extend to her and the Attorney General my thanks and goodwill. For more than six years I have made clear that I had a single goal in bringing this case: justice. Now, at last, justice has been done.’
Fatima Boudchar said, ‘I thank the British Government for its apology and for inviting me and my son to the UK to hear it. I accept the government’s apology […] by today’s settlement I look forward to rebuilding my life with dignity and honour, and living free from the weight of these events with my husband and our five beautiful children.’
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