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SIAC deportation ruling risks undermining justice and prohibition on torture, says Amnesty

Amnesty International today (2 November) expressed deep concern at the implications of the ruling of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) on the cases of three Algerian men – Mustapha Taleb and two others known, for legal reasons, as “U” and “BB” – facing deportation to Algeria on “national security” grounds.

In July of this year the Court of Appeal ordered the SIAC to reconsider its original decisions in each of the three cases. Two of the men, known as BB and U, were not told what problems the Court of Appeal found with SIAC’s original determination. The SIAC has now reconsidered the cases, in part in closed – i.e. secret – session, and in each case has reached the same determinations as it originally did. Once again the men have not been able effectively to challenge the secret material used in secret sessions of the court.

Amnesty International UK’s Director, Kate Allen, said:

“This decision, and the process by which it was reached, has severe implications. It undermines the right to a fair hearing in this country, and the ban on torture worldwide.

“A British court has again used secret information to allow the deportation of men who have not been given a fair chance to challenge the material used against them.

“This systematically unfair process has now left three men facing return to Algeria, where Amnesty International considers they face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment or other grave human rights violations

“Paper promises from the Algerian government, unenforceable in UK or Algerian law, mean nothing. People are still being detained in secret locations by the military intelligence service, the DRS, in Algeria. Amnesty has received reports that those held outside the framework of the law have been beaten up and forced to swallow large amounts of chemicals, urine or dirty water. These acts of torture have been committed with sweeping impunity.

“People suspected of terrorist links face a particular risk of torture in Algeria. The unfair proceedings against these men in the UK therefore heighten the risk they face. And the civil authorities in Algeria seem to have little control over the DRS – so assurances from Algerian government officials are not likely to protect these men from a very real threat.”

Returning people to countries where they would face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment, or other grave human rights violations, is clearly and absolutely banned under domestic and international law, said Amnesty. If the UK government proceeds to deport Mustapha Taleb, BB and U to Algeria, it will circumvent the protection against torture in UK law. It also risks diluting the absolute prohibition against torture. The organisation continued to insist that ‘diplomatic assurances’ between the UK and Algerian governments offered no real protection against torture.

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