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UK: Law lords' decision on Abu Qatada opens way for more deportations

Amnesty International is gravely concerned by the possible consequences of today's decision by the House of Lords on cases concerning the UK government's attempts to deport people to countries where they will be at risk of serious human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment.

The government is attempting to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan and two other people, referred to in UK legal proceedings as ‘RB’ and ‘U’, to Algeria.

In all three cases the government is relying on diplomatic assurances, given by the governments of Jordan and Algeria, to reduce what the government acknowledges is a real risk that the men will be subject to serious human rights violations in their countries of origin.

Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International, said:

“It would be deeply worrying if the Law Lords’ decision were taken by the UK government as a green light to push ahead with deporting people to countries where they will be at risk of abuses such as torture and unfair trials.

“Diplomatic assurances are completely unenforceable and as such cannot be relied upon.

“No-one should be deported to face a risk of torture, whatever they might be alleged or suspected to have done.

“States simply cannot pick and choose which people have human rights.”

Amnesty International believes that by resorting to these assurances, the UK government is undermining the system of international human rights treaties, including the global ban on torture and other ill-treatment, in favour of bilateral deals negotiated with countries which have already failed to live up to their existing international obligations to prevent and punish torture and other ill-treatment.

Nicola Duckworth said:

"If these individuals in question are reasonably suspected of having committed a criminal offence relating to terrorism, it is always open to the UK authorities to charge them and give them a fair trial. What is not acceptable is to use suspicion of involvement in terrorism to justify sending someone to face a real risk of torture or other serious violations of their rights.”

The UK has been seeking to deport a number of people whom it alleges pose a threat to national security for some years. It has sought so-called "diplomatic assurances" from the countries to which these people are to be returned and where they may be at risk of serious human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment and flagrantly unfair trials.

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