Diplomatic deals expose deportees to torture risk

Amnesty says Britain has led the way in relying on 'worthless' assurances

Britain's policy of relying on diplomatic deals to return terror suspects to countries with dubious human rights records is not adequate to prevent torture and unlawful detention, it is claimed today.

Amnesty International says the UK Government must end its practice of deporting foreign nationals after securing "worthless" no-torture agreements. Describing the UK as "the most influential and aggressive" promoter of the policy of seeking "diplomatic assurances", the human rights organisation claims that two Algerians deported by the UK in 2007 were ill-treated on return. The Algerian government did not offer diplomatic assurances of humane treatment to the UK Government in these cases, but did tell the men directly that they would be protected under an amnesty.

But after they were returned, claims Amnesty, the two were detained by the security police for two weeks, interrogated, and beaten and threatened. Both were later convicted of "participation in a terrorist network operating abroad". Britain has no-torture deals with Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Libya; one with Algeria is being considered.

This week the Special Immigration Appeals Commission is set to rule on the case of an Ethiopian national threatened with deportation based on a "memorandum of understanding" between the UK and Ethiopia that promises that the man will not be tortured on return. However, Amnesty has documented serious human rights abuses in Ethiopia and believes diplomatic deals with Ethiopia are an extremely unreliable guide to future treatment in that country. The case of Abu Qatada, threatened with deportation to Jordan under a no-torture deal signed, is before the European Court of Human Rights. In February 2007 a UK immigration court dismissed Qatada's appeal against deportation. Following a further appeal, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales ruled in April 2008 that he could not be forcibly returned to Jordan because evidence extracted by the torture of a key witness would most likely be used in his possible retrial there.

Amnesty's expert on counter-terrorism and human rights in Europe, Julia Hall, said: "Assurances against torture from governments that routinely practise such abuse cannot be trusted. European governments that accept these hollow promises are undermining the absolute prohibition of torture."

The use of diplomatic assurances on torture has increased considerably since the 11 September attacks on the US, says Amnesty, listing 12 countries involved in the controversial practice: Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Britain.

The Amnesty report singles out the UK Government for over-reliance on diplomatic assurances. UK authorities began seeking assurances in national security-related cases in 1992, and the policy has developed to include general "memorandums of understanding" with key countries. In May 2006 the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights concluded that employing diplomatic assurances to effect deportations of those accused of posing a threat to national security could "place deported individuals at risk of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment".

Last night the Foreign and Commonwealth Office denied that the UK deports people where there are grounds for believing there is a real risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. An spokesperson said: "Our domestic UK Courts and the European Court of Human Rights have accepted the principle of seeking diplomatic assurances to remove someone."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little