Socialist Worker

Detainees sent back to regimes that torture and kill

Issue No. 1964

Gareth Peirce

Gareth Peirce

Civil rights campaigners have reacted with fury to the latest government plans to deport suspected “Muslim extremists” to countries that routinely practice torture and the death penalty.

Ten men were rounded up without warning on Wednesday morning last week and imprisoned in Long Lartin, Worcestershire and Full Sutton near York.

All of them had until recently been detained indefinitely without charge at Belmarsh prison in south London or Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.

They were released earlier this year under “control orders” after the House of Lords ruled their detention was illegal.

The government previously justified its detention of these foreign nationals on the grounds that they were under strong risk of being tortured or killed if sent back to their home countries.

Now the government is claiming that they can be sent back safely, thanks to diplomatic “assurances” from countries such as Jordan and Algeria that the detainees will be treated humanely.

“The home office did not think it necessary to give a single word of explanation to those individuals as to why this morning they can safely be deported when last night they could not,” said Gareth Peirce, solicitor to seven of the detained men.

“If there are ‘memoranda of understanding’ between this country and the brutal regimes from which they have fled, those have not been provided to those men or to us.

“Diplomatic assurances that torture will not be used could never be asked of countries that truly guarantee human rights. Such assurances carry no sanction if breached — they are unenforceable.

“The home office cannot suggest that either of the countries involved, Algeria and Jordan, has undergone overnight any internal revolution that does away with torture.

“Jordan and Algeria are at the top of every list of countries known to use the most brutal of forbidden measures.

“We know that in the recent ‘ricin’ prosecution, false evidence was extracted by torture from a detainee in Algeria. That false evidence was thereafter seized upon and given as a justification for this country’s invasion of Iraq.

“We cannot trade human beings at will in this way. This is insane and dangerous government at its worst.”

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Sat 20 Aug 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1964
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