Clarke scolds UN over criticism on deportations

By Irwin Arieff, Tue Oct 4, 2005 6:33 PM BST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Home Secretary Charles Clarke complained to the United Nations on Tuesday that it should support rather than criticise London's efforts to make it easier to deport foreign militants to countries suspected of using torture.
Britain, under pressure to take a tough line against hard-line Islamists after July bombings in London which killed 52 people, has asked Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and others to agree in advance not to torture anybody that London hoped to deport to their country.
But Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, urged Britain in August not to deport militants to any country suspected of using torture and dismissed such assurances they would not be mistreated once they arrived.
That prompted Clarke to object "in the strongest possible terms" to a U.N. official expressing such views without first consulting with London.
He planned to make this point in a Tuesday meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he said. "The United Nations ought to be supporting government-to-government treaties in areas such as this," he told a small group of reporters.
The European Court of Justice has made deportation difficult if there is a risk an individual will be tortured in the destination country, he said.
A court ruling barred arguments that the risk of torture could be outweighed by a risk the individual would commit a dangerous act such as "blow up a train," Clarke said.
Britain is seeking to reverse that judgement in a new case brought before the court by the Netherlands, he said.
It is also seeking to reassure the courts by negotiating bilateral memorandums of understanding in which countries would agree not to torture or otherwise abuse a deported individual, he said.
Britain had already reached such an agreement with Jordan, was close to completing accords with Egypt and Algeria, and was negotiating with several other unnamed governments, he said.
Britain hoped to deport a number of individuals on national security grounds who were now in detention, awaiting a decision in the courts, he said.
At the same time, London did not intend to copy the U.S. technique known as rendition in which U.S. agents have spirited terrorist suspects out of other Western nations to transport them to countries where they may have been tortured, he said.
"We don't go along with that kind of way of doing things," Clarke said.
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