Liberty welcomes SIAC decision not to return Libyans to face possible torture

27 April 2007

The decision marks the first successful challenge of the UK Government’s “memorandum of understanding” policy with the Libyan government which relies on diplomatic assurances that returned Libyans will not be ill-treated or tortured.

Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti said:

"If deportation is to be one part of Britain's anti-terror strategy our Government must work to improve the human rights standards of friendly countries rather than dilute ours. The Government should concentrate on eradicating the practice of torture, not extracting incredible paper promises."

Jen Corlew on 0207 378 3656 or 0797 3 831 128

Notes to Editors

1. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) allowed the appeals by the two Libyans, known as DD and AS, against their deportation to Libya on 27 April 2007. The Home Office plans to appeal the decision in the belief that the men are a threat to national security.

2. Libya signed a memorandum of understanding promising the UK government it will not torture or ill-treat Libyans returned from Britain in October 2005.

3. Under international conventions the UK government cannot send people back to a country where they might face torture or ill-treatment. The Foreign Office has stated that "memorandum of understanding" with individual countries can remove this bar to deportations.

4. The 2004 Human Rights Report issued by the Foreign Office expresses concern about the “human rights situation in Libya, including restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, political prisoners, arbitrary detention and conditions in Libyan prisons.”

5. In 2005 Liberty and Human Rights Watch wrote to the Prime Minister expressing concerns at the British government’s stated intention to seek diplomatic assurances against torture in order to deport terrorism suspects to their home countries or to third countries where they would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.