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Press Statement - Birnberg Peirce & Partners 11/8/05

See the end of this message for some additional background released by Birnberg Peirce and Partners 9pm 11 Aug

A number of men we represent who are the subject of Control Orders were arrested this morning and told that they would be deported. 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 be safely deported to their respective countries of origin when last night they could not. 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. The men themselves in any event have been throughout today deliberately put out of reach of lawyers who represent them. We do not know where they are and the Home Office will not tell us. We have a strong suspicion that they are deliberately being separated in a number of directions now so as to make access even more problematic.

The 2001 Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act was introduced for this specific claimed purpose of being able to lock up foreign nationals without trial who with certainty would be tortured or killed if they were deported. If the Home Office claims that it can now rely upon diplomatic assurances from appalling regimes whom it knows, on strong evidence make use of torture, then it does so in the face of universal international rejection of such "assurances".

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, they provide those brutal regimes with an endorsement by our government that they are true democracies and since regimes that use torture regularly subcontract that work, the regimes themselves can claim that rogue torturers operate without state blessing.

The Home Office can not suggest that either of the countries concerned, Algeria or 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 ourselves believe that even now planes depart on behalf of the USA carrying suspects to detention centres in Jordan that use torture (the appalling practice of "rendition"). 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.

Each successive claim made by the Home Office during the past three years has contradicted itself. There is thereafter silence as to why the position changes. If it is necessary that these men have to now be arrested, why does the Home Office say in March just before placing them under Control Orders that all could appropriately be on bail? If these men can be safely deported now, why has the Home Office claimed for so years that that was impossible? If it is claimed that recent incidents in this country demand these measures how is it that a number of men, primarily Algerians, come to be rounded up under yet new measures as the usual suspects; is there a single suggestion that can be made that they have in any way participated in or had any connection with recent incidents said to justify recent incidents said to demand these measures?

Ultimately this move risks disenfranchising this country from the international community that guarantees true observance of fundamental human rights. We cannot be part of that community which means abiding by our treaty obligations and trade human beings at will in this way. This is insane and dangerous government at its worse. The Prime Minister is wrong. The rules of the game have not changed. The rules that we pray (sic) in aid (sic) cannot be changed for the purposes of political grandstanding and he, of all people, as a lawyer, should know that.

Gareth Peirce

Further Background

issued by Daniel Guedalla of Birnberg Peirce & Partnerrs, 9pm 11 August

As you know we at Birnberg Peirce act for most of the people arrested today, we have been told for deportation to Algeria and Jordan, two countries where it is well known they would not be safe from torture and ill-treatment. All were previously detained under the 2001 Act precisely because the government accepted that in accordance with the rule of law they could not be safely deported for those reasons. They were then released on electronic tagging control orders in March 2005 after the House of Lords ruled it was unlawful to intern them indefinitely without trial on secret evidence. Almost all (and many of their wives and children) have developed psychiatric disorders as a result of their detention, four so seriously they had to be released from prison three of whom were transferred to psychiatric institutions; yet all of which are now back in prison, after having complied perfectly with the control orders, and with no thought to the known consequences of such detention on individuals and their families already so vulnerable. These men detained today have, uniquely, been under more surveillance and monitoring by the authorities during the last four years than anyone else and would have been charged or at least had breach of control order proceedings commenced against them if there was any reason to suspect any had been doing anything; all of the claims that we are now starting to see in the brief letters each has been issued with seems only to relate to alleged associations and fund raising activities several years ago before they were initially detained.

This was all well known to the Home Office when earlier today they decided to make these vulnerable people, asylum seekers and refugees and their wives and families, the sacrificial lambs to the slaughter in order to show how 'tough' the government is being. This action is being taken against the weakest and most damaged people who have never been alleged to have any connection to any acts of 'terrorism' against Britain let alone the London bombings last month in which all the suspects appear to be British.