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Law Lords' Decision Opens Way for More Deportations from United Kingdom, Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International is
gravely concerned by the possible consequences of today's decision by the
Law Lords, the United Kingdom's highest court, which authorizes the U.K.
government to deport people to countries where they will be at a real risk
of serious human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment.

The U.K. government is attempting to deport
two individuals, referred to in legal proceedings in as 'RB' and 'U', to
Algeria, and a third individual, Omar Othman (also known as Abu Qatada)
to Jordan. In all three cases, the government is relying on diplomatic
assurances, given by the governments of Algeria and Jordan respectively,
to reduce what the government acknowledges is a real risk that the men
will be subject to serious human rights violations in their countries of

"It would be deeply worrying if the
Law Lords' decision were to be taken by the U.K. government as a green
light to push ahead with deporting people to countries where they will
be at risk of abuses such as torture and unfair trials," said Nicola
Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia program director at Amnesty International.

"Diplomatic assurances are completely
unenforceable and as such cannot be relied upon."

Amnesty International believes that by resorting
to these assurances, the U.K. government is undermining the system of international
human rights treaties, including the global ban on torture and other ill-treatment,
in favor of bilateral deals negotiated with countries which have already
failed to live up to their existing international obligations to prevent
and punish torture and other ill-treatment.

"No one should be deported to face a
risk of torture, whatever they might be alleged or suspected to have done.
States simply cannot pick and choose which people have human rights,"
Duckworth said.

"If these individuals in question are
reasonably suspected of having committed a criminal offense relating to
terrorism, it is always open to the U.K. authorities to charge them and
give them a fair trial. What is not acceptable is to use suspicion of involvement
in terrorism to justify sending someone to face a real risk of torture
or other serious violations of their rights."

The U.K. has been seeking to deport a number
of individuals whom it alleges pose a threat to national security for some
years. It has sought so-called "diplomatic assurances" from the
countries to which these individuals are to be returned and where they
may be at risk of serious human rights violations, including torture and
other ill-treatment and flagrantly unfair trials.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.


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