‘PM should call for torture ban’

‘PM should call for torture ban’

Press Association, Monday July 10, 2006

Prime Minister Tony Blair must pressure a visiting head of state to stamp out torture, human rights group Amnesty International has urged.

During a stay in London, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to sign a diplomatic agreement with Britain on the return of terror suspects.

The agreement – the exact nature of which has not been revealed – may be designed to allow suspected terrorists to be deported to Algeria despite the country’s poor human rights record.

Amnesty highlighted beatings and other inhuman treatment allegedly handed out by Algeria’s military police, the Departement du renseignement et de la securite, or DRS.

The new report – timed to coincide with President Bouteflika’s arrival – said beatings and electric shocks were among the DRS’s interrogation techniques, along with the forced ingestion of dirty water, urine or chemicals.

Amnesty claimed any agreement with Algeria would be « virtually worthless » in curtailing the DRS’s activities.

Amnesty UK director Kate Allen said: « Algeria’s DRS must be brought under control and there should be an end to secret detention and torture.

« That is the message that Tony Blair should give to President Bouteflika – not that Britain will turn a blind eye to torture if Algeria will sign a diplomatic deal with us. »

She added: « President Bouteflika should publicly commit to investigating the disturbing allegations of abuse documented in this report.

« He must also ensure that DRS officers no longer arrest or detain suspects and that anyone responsible for torture or mistreatment of detainees is promptly brought to justice. »