Annual Report: United Kingdom 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: United Kingdom 2010

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  • In February, two Algerian nationals, referred to in legal proceedings in the UK as "RB" and "U", and Omar Othman (also known as Abu Qatada), a Jordanian national, lost their appeals before the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (the Law Lords) against deportation to their respective countries on "national security" grounds. In all three cases the government was relying on "diplomatic assurances", given by the Algerian and Jordanian governments respectively, claiming that they would sufficiently reduce the risk that the men would be subjected to grave human rights violations, including torture, on their return.

The following day, the European Court of Human Rights issued interim measures indicating to the government that Omar Othman should not be deported to Jordan. At the end of the year, his case was pending.

  • In April, 10 Pakistani students in the UK were arrested and detained under suspicion of involvement in terrorism. They were later released without charge but immediately rearrested and detained again, pending deportation on "national security" grounds. They were held in high security prisons. By December, eight of them had abandoned their appeals against deportation and had returned to Pakistan.

In December, the High Court of England and Wales ruled against the government and the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). It held that, even in the context of bail proceedings before the SIAC, a fair hearing required sufficient disclosure, and that exclusive reliance on secret material would breach fair trial standards.

Internment

In February, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that, by interning nine foreign nationals on suspicion of terrorism, the UK had violated their right to liberty. Detaining them without charge or trial had discriminated unjustifiably between them and UK nationals. The Court also found that four of the nine had not been able to effectively challenge the allegations against them because the open material on which the government had relied consisted purely of general assertions and the national court's decision to maintain their detention was based solely or to a decisive degree on secret material to which neither they nor their lawyers of choice had had access. The Court also held that each of the nine had been denied the right to compensation for the above violations.

"Control orders"

As of 10 December there were 12 "control orders" in force under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. The Act gives a government minister unprecedented powers to issue "control orders" to restrict the liberty, movement and activities of people purportedly suspected of involvement in terrorism, on the basis of secret intelligence.