The Torture (Damages) Bill in Parliament

The last version of the bill is here: Torture (Damages) Bill

The bill was first introduced by the late Lord Archer in the 2006-2007 parliamentary year and subsequently in three following parliamentary sessions. The Torture (Damages) Bill sought to create an exception to the State Immunity Act, 1978, in order to allow civil suits against torturers and the states that support them. It successfully passed a First, Second and Third Reading in the House of Lords in the 2007-2008 parliamentary year. The bill received support from parliamentarians, most notably, from the Joint Committee on Human Rights in 2009. An inquiry by the committee heard evidence from REDRESS and the government, among other parties, and concluded that a civil remedy should be available in the UK to victims of torture. The bill had a First Reading in the House of Commons on 6 January 2010. 

The History of the Torture (Damages) Bill

Parliamentary Session 2009-2010

The Bill had its First Reading in the House of Commons on 6 January 2010. The Bill was introduced in the Commons by Andrew Dismore MP. Parliament was suspended due to a general election and the Bill could progress no further.

Parliamentary Session 2008-2009

During the 2008-09 parliamentary session, the Bill had a First Reading in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords before the parliamentary year ended and the Bill could progress no further.

Inquiry by the Joint Committee on Human Rights 2009

The Joint Committee on Human Rights carried out an inquiry on UK law on genocide (and related crimes) and redress for torture victims. The Committee considered the Torture (Damages) Bill as part of this inquiry.

REDRESS submitted written comments to the JCHR in March 2009

REDRESS’ Kevin Laue also gave evidence about the Torture (Damages) Bill to the Committee on 1 July 2009. Claire Ward MP, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice spoke on this issue and UK legislation relating to genocide and related offences.

The Committee’s report “Closing the Impunity Gap: UK law on genocide (and related crimes) and redress for torture victims” can be read here. This also includes transcripts from oral hearings and written evidence received by the Committee. The report concluded the government should legislate to allow British torture victims to pursue torturing states for damages and that the Torture (Damages) Bill would have this effect.

In a statement REDRESS welcomed the conclusions of the JCHR as important and urged the government to implement them.

10 August 2009 Press Release - PARLIAMENTARIANS SAY: “ALLOW TORTURE SURVIVORS TO SUE FOREIGN TORTURERS IN UK” - Press Release 

Parliamentary Session 2007-2008

During the 2007-08 parliamentary session, the Bill successfully passed a First, Second and Third Reading in the Lords and was passed to the House of Commons where it had a First Reading before the parliamentary year ended and the Bill could progress no further.

The First Reading in the House of Lords was held on 5th February 2008. The Bill was introduced in the Lords by Lord Archer of Sandwell QC.

Read the Hansard Transcript of the Second Reading in the Lords on 16th May 2008 here.

Read the Hansard Transcript of the Third Reading in the Lords on 11th November 2008 here.

The Bill had its First Reading in the House of Commons on 18th November 2008, introduced by Andrew Dismore MP.

Parliamentary Session 2006-2007

The Torture (Damages) Bill was also introduced by Lord Archer of Sandwell QC in the 2006-07 parliamentary session. The Bill did not progress beyond its First Reading in the Lords.


Back to Top

Where We Work

Blog

Victims Rights Working Groups

Criminal Law Reform in Sudan

Website by Adept