PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 28/011/2006
UA 173/06 Incommunicado detention/fear of torture or other ill-treatment
ALGERIA Two Algerian men, known as "V" and "I"
The UK authorities deported two Algerian men, known as “V” and “I”, to Algeria on 16 and 17 June respectively, on the grounds that they presented a “threat to the national security” of the UK. The men's families have had no contact with them since they arrived at Algiers airport, and Amnesty International fears that they are being held in a military barracks in Algiers, part of which is used as a secret detention centre, and that they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
In London the Algerian consulate had reportedly assured the men that they were not wanted for any crimes in Algeria and that they would be released after they had spent a few hours in police custody at the airport to satisfy formalities. Despite this, the men have been held at an undisclosed location since they arrived, and have been allowed no contact with their families, in violation of Algerian law.
When the men's relatives made enquiries, the authorities confirmed that they had arrived in Algeria and were in custody, but would not say where or why, or give permission to visit them.
Amnesty International fears that the men are held by a military intelligence agency, the Department for Information and Security (Département du renseignement et de la sécurité, DRS). It specializes in interrogating people thought to possess information about terrorist activities. DRS detainees are routinely held in secret places of detention, allowed no contact with the outside world, and there are persistent reports of torture and other ill-treatment.
“V” and “I” were among a group of men the UK authorities labelled as “suspected international terrorists” and held either in prison or under house arrest on the basis of secret intelligence which has not been disclosed to them or their lawyers and which they have therefore been unable to challenge. Both men had been held in Long Lartin prison since 2005, awaiting deportation. “V” and “I” faced a stark choice: either continue to challenge their deportation to Algeria and face continued detention in high-security prisons far away from their families, friends and communities for years on end, or face an uncertain future fraught with risk by returning to that country. To pursue their appeal against deportation would have meant a legal battle involving the use against them of secret intelligence never disclosed to them or their lawyers and a standard of proof heavily weighted in favour of the government. “V” and “I” lost all faith in the possibility that they would receive any meaningful justice in the UK. In March 2006, they withdrew their appeals against the deportation orders. They preferred to return to Algeria, despite the risks they would face.
Under Article 51 of the Algerian Criminal Procedures Code, detainees suspected of “terrorist or subversive acts” may be held without charge for a maximum of 12 days. The arresting authorities must immediately give them the opportunity to communicate with their families and to receive visits from them. In addition, any detention beyond four days has to be authorized in writing by the public prosecutor.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Arabic, French, English or your own language:
and to diplomatic representatives of Algeria accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 1 August 2006.
|Extraditions from the UK|