Algeria, Britain Reach Agreement on Deportation of Algerian Fundamentalists
Algiers, Asharq al-Awsat – Algeria intends to reveal details of a security and judicial agreement with Britain concerning the deportation of Algerian fundamentalists which the British Government considers a danger to British security.
Algerian Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz told correspondents in parliament the day before yesterday that the « results we have reached during the preparation of the agreement are very, very conclusive. » Faced by the correspondents’ insistence to give them more details of the agreement over which there was much talk during the past eight months, the minister said only: « We are about to undertake a considerable action and you will see the purport of this action soon. It is a matter of time. » The minister did not identify the British side that the Algerians negotiated with to reach an agreement that would allow the Algerian Government to receive persons residing in Britain who were given jail sentences by the Algerian judiciary on charges of terrorism or are wanted for questioning in terror-related cases.
Judicial sources told « Asharq al-Awsat » that the British « laid down very strict conditions in return for agreeing in principle to deport any person wanted by Algeria. The most important is a pledge not to torture, execute, or even humiliate him. » The same sources pointed out that the British security delegation that came to Algiers last September for the purpose of discussing the arrangements for the agreement « asserted to us that the authorities were facing great difficulties in persuading the judiciary to extradite any person to another country, especially if that person holds British citizenship. British courts demand strict and substantive guarantees that prove irrevocably that the concerned person poses a danger to internal security before agreeing to his deportation. »
A British delegation, which included « official spokesmen » according to the British ambassador, held talks in Algiers last September with the justice and interior ministers and security officials for the purpose of deciding the official framework under which Algerians detained by the British security forces following the London bombings of July would be extradited. The visit was kept secret by both sides but this did not prevent the leaking of information to the effect that the Algerian Government committed itself to include the deportees in the « national peace and reconciliation » plan. This involves most importantly canceling all forms of juridical pursuits and jail sentences issued against them on condition that they were not involved in three types of crimes: Participation in mass massacres, rape of women, and the planting of explosives in public places.
The justice minister said on the other hand that terror in the country had receded during the past years against a rise in the other types of crimes. He said theft crimes rose by 9 percent between 2000 and 2004 « which means that the citizen feels the absence of security and the state. » He added, « These figures must be handled with caution and reservation as they can be misread. »