No-torture pledges on deportees 'unreliable'

HUMAN rights campaigners accuse the British government today of "aggressive" use of "no torture" deals to deport suspect-ed terrorists.

Amnesty International labell-ed the practice of returning people deemed a threat to national secur-ity to certain countries that prom-ised humane treatment as a "failed experiment".

It said such promises were "unreliable" and "unenforceable". In a report entitled Dangerous Deals: Europe's reliance on 'diplomatic assurances' against torture, it urged the EU to end the practice.

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The report highlights examples of the use of diplomatic assurances by European governments and claims: "The UK government has been the most influential and aggressive promoter in Europe of the use of diplomatic assurances to forcibly return people it considers threats to national security to countries where they would face a real risk of serious human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment."

Amnesty criticised the Foreign Office for negotiating "memorandums of understanding" (MoU) with countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Libya and Ethiopia.

The report comes as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission is set to consider the case of an Ethiopian threatened with deportation based on an MoU promising the man will not be tortured on his return.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The British Government will not deport a person where there are substantial grounds for believing there is a real risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."