Letter: Algeria's `disappeared'

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Sir: Robert Fisk is to be applauded for his exposure of the horrific practices of the Algerian police force (30 October).

The policy of states "disappearing" those perceived to be their opponents is far more widespread than generally recognised. It occurs in many countries that claim to be democratic: including Colombia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Turkey. Algeria's neighbour Morocco has for 22 years systematically applied the policy against the people of the Western Sahara.

All of these states received military training from Britain under the last Conservative government. Will matters now change? The first thing that should be done, immediately, if the new human rights focus in foreign policy is to have any substance, is that the Government should pledge to stop all military training for states carrying out "disappearances". Secondly, and closely linked, no arms should be supplied to such regimes. And thirdly, Britain must treat asylum seekers fleeing from these countries with a new humanity and acceptance.

ANDY HIGGINBOTTOM

British Section

International Committee Against Disappearances

London N17

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