CAMPAIGN AGAINST CRIMINALISING COMMUNITIES
The Algerian `terror suspects’; from acquittal or internment to deportation – and torture ?
Hosted and chaired by Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, M.P.
At 7 Millbank, SW1 (very close to the Houses of Parliament)
6.45 p.m. Wednesday 28 June
# WILL THESE MEN BE DEPORTED TO TORTURE ?
# AFTER INTERNMENT, CONTROL ORDERS, IMMIGRATION DETENTION AND `BAIL’ UNDER HOUSE ARREST, HOW LONG WILL THEIR PUNISHMENT WITHOUT TRIAL CONTINUE ?
# IF INTERNMENT WAS ILLEGAL, WHY NO LIMIT ON DETENTION PENDING DEPORTATION ?
# WHAT DOES ALGERIA MEAN TO THE WESTERN POWERS – IS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE THE PRICE OF GAS AND OIL?
Yvonne Ridley, Simon Israel, journalists
Rashid Messoudi, journalist and human rights campaigner
Nafeez M.Ahmed; author of `The War on Truth’and `The London Bombings’
Gareth Peirce, solicitor
Doug Jewell, Campaigns Co-ordinator, Liberty
Mohammed Larbi Zitout, former Algerian diplomat and spokesman for human rights organisation El Karama
Anne Gray, CAMPACC
Press enquiries 07791 904375
FREE THE DETAINEES! NO IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT TRIAL!
Around 16 Algerians are currently facing possible return to their homeland as `threats to (British) national security’. They illustrate the worst horrors of pre-deportation detention, a situation suffered by thousands of asylum seekers to whom the Human Rights Act gives no rights against imprisonment without trial. Amongst the Algerian detainees are some of the former defendants in the `ricin’ trial, who were acquitted of the poison plot charges, or had charges dropped, in spring 2005 only to be re-arrested in August or September under immigration law. Innocent in British law, they face deportation with a `terrorist’ label around their necks. Others were imprisoned without trial under the anti-terrorism law of 2001. In spring 2005 they were moved from prison to house arrest under `control orders’, allowed out only for a few hours a day, with severe restrictions on visitors. They went back to jail last summer. Some were later released on bail; one under 24 hour house arrest, others tagged and allowed out for between two and six hours per day.
British law allows the detainees to be jailed or under house arrest as long as deportation is being negotiated, perhaps for years. Faced with a new form of indefinite imprisonment without trial, one detainee attempted suicide in September. Four detainees in Long Lartin prison have abandoned their appeals against deportation, saying in a letter to the Guardian that their conditions are so bad that they would prefer a quick death in Algeria to a slow death in Britain.
These cases show the depths of injustice and despair to which British anti-terrorism measures are leading.
The UK government has spent months trying to negotiate a `Memorandum of Understanding’ with Algeria that these men, if returned, will not be tortured. Most commentators agree that such an agreement, if signed, will be worthless, not least since the Algerian government has poor control over abuses committed by its own employees. Yet relations between Algeria and the UK on this issue seem friendly and informal – even, in the interrogation of one of the `ricin trial’ suspects, collaborative. What commercial and strategic interests are at stake ? Can the UK government `afford’ to be too critical of a major supplier of gas and oil, home to major British and American investment projects ?
Algeria is of important strategic and economic interest to UK (and US and EU states) with regard to its oil and natural gas reserves; 90 % of Algeria crude oil exports go to western Europe including Britain, and BP has a 31.8 billion contract with the Algerian regime. Other important British investors are Glaxo SmithKline and Unilever Algeria also plays a central role in the west’s “war on terror” and cooperates with both the USA and the UK on regional anti-terrorist activities and joint operations. The systematic torture for which the Algerian regime has an appalling record is one of the methods it uses to stay in power. Even the UK Foreign Office web site notes that Algerian state security forces have been responsible for the enforced disappearances of at least 4,000 people, abductions, torture and extra-judicial killings in the last decade.