SIAC ruling on Abu Qatada puts him at risk of torture

Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruling on Abu Qatada: Amnesty response

News Item from Amnesty International 26 February 2007

Responding to today's Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruling regarding Abu Qatada, Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

'Deporting Abu Qatada to Jordan will put him at real risk of torture.'

'We are profoundly concerned that SIAC discounted ample evidence showing the risk of torture if Abu Qatada is returned. The evidence presented to SIAC included Amnesty International material documenting the routine infliction of torture on 'security suspects' in Jordan, particularly at the hands of the General Intelligence Department; a practice which continues with impunity.

'This includes beatings - on the soles of the feet or while the victim is handcuffed and suspended for hours from the ceiling - threats of rape and execution, and burning people with cigarettes.

"Memorandums of Understanding offer no real protection to people who are deported to countries that use torture. It is entirely unacceptable for the UK to try to get round the global ban on torture, which clearly states that no-one should be transferred to a country where they risk being tortured or ill-treated.

'What is more, SIAC's decision that Abu Qatada is a threat to UK national security was made on the basis of secret intelligence which he was unable to see or refute.

'The UK Government must do its utmost to protect the public from the threat of terrorism. But going soft on torture is not the answer to terrorism. The UK must remain steadfast in its opposition to this vile practice.'

What is the Special Immigration Appeals Commission?

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) is the venue of appeal for foreign nationals facing detention, deportation or exclusion from the UK on grounds of national security. It has the same powers as the High Court and is presided over by senior judges.

Background

From the Full Statement from Amnesty International 26 February 2007

Abu Qatada is a Jordanian national. In 1993, after arriving in the UK, he sought asylum for himself, his wife and three children. In 1994 he was granted refugee status by the UK authorities.

He has previously been interned without charge or trial in the UK under the now defunct Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. In March 2005 he was 'released' from detention under Part 4 and put under a 'control order' under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. He was then rearrested in August 2005 and held under immigration powers pending deportation on national security grounds to Jordan.

The appeals before SIAC in which people can attempt to challenge orders for deportation on 'national security' grounds are inherently profoundly unfair because of heavy reliance on closed hearings in which secret information, including intelligence material, is considered in the absence of the individuals concerned and their lawyers of choice, and because of the application of a particularly low standard of proof.

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