Slovakia deports Mustapha Labsi to Algeria

Andy Worthington reports from his blog that on April 19, Mustapha Labsi, an Algerian terror suspect was returned to Algeria from Slovakia, even though, as Amnesty International explained, this was “in clear violation of Slovakia’s international obligations.” Pointing out that, at the time of his expulsion, Labsi “was legally protected against return to Algeria by two very influential judicial bodies,” Amnesty added that it was concerned about “the Slovak’s government disregard for international law.”

The first of these “two very influential judicial bodies” is the European Court of Human Rights, which, as Amnesty explained, “issued an order for interim measures on 13 August 2008 requiring that the Slovak authorities refrain from extraditing Mustapha Labsi until the appeals on his new asylum claim had been completed.”

Labsi’s wife is Slovakian, and he had sought asylum in Slovakia after his earlier imprisonment in the UK and France. He was held in the UK until 2006, when he was extradited to France. There he was tried and sentenced to six years in prison after being linked to an attempted attack on an international summit in Lille in 1996. However, he was deemed to have served out his sentence whilst awaiting extradition in the UK and was again released from custody, but after making his way to Slovakia, in the hope of being reunited with his wife and his young son (even though his long detention had led to the breakdown of his marriage and the collapse of his wife’s mental health), he was imprisoned again, in May 2007, following an extradition request by the Algerian government. Despite this, he lodged a claim for asylum in Slovakia, but this was rejected in October 2008 and again in October 2009 on appeal to the regional court in Bratislava. He then fled from a refugee camp to Austria in December 2009 and was returned to Slovakia on March 11, 2010.

The second influential body that weighed in to prevent Labsi’s expulsion is the Constitutional Court of Slovakia, which, in June 2008, concluded that a previous Supreme Court decision allowing his extradition “would violate his human rights.” The Constitutional Court, as Amnesty explained, “reaffirmed the absolute duty of the Slovak authorities not to return people to countries where they face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”

As a result, the Supreme Court reconsidered Labsi’s case and accepted the Constitutional Court’s verdict in August 2008, noting that Labsi faced the risk of torture and other ill-treatment, despite “diplomatic assurances,” arranged between the Slovakian and Algerian authorities, which purported to guarantee his humane treatment.

Despite these rulings, however, when the Slovakian Supreme Court rejected Labsi’s final appeal regarding his asylum claim on March 30, the government stepped in to deport him, even though his lawyer was preparing to file a claim with the Constitutional Court seeking clarification of his status, and even though, on April 16, the European Court of Human Rights notified his legal representative, Maria Kolikova, that its August 2008 order “would remain in effect until Mustapha Labsi had the opportunity to file a claim with the Constitutional Court and that claim was ruled upon.”

Describing the circumstances of his return to Algeria, Amnesty also explained:

His lawyers and family members were not notified of the expulsion and Mustapha Labsi had no opportunity to challenge the decision of the Ministry of Interior to return him to Algeria. The Slovak Minister of Interior was reported to have justified the breach of the European Court’s order by invoking national security and claiming that the penalty for such a violation was only a “couple of thousand euros”.

On Thursday, the Chairpersons of two Committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) expressed their shock and concern at the expulsion, which, as they noted, ignored the European Court’s interim measure, which was binding on the Slovakian government. Christos Pourgourides, the Chair of PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and John Greenway, the Chair of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, said,

“It is disgraceful to have extradited Mustapha Labsi to Algeria; this is a case in which there exists an imminent risk of irreparable damage to the applicant. Such action directly undermines the authority of the Strasbourg Court at a time when all member states have just reiterated their attachment to the Court. This is an unacceptable disregard of European Convention on Human Rights requirements.”

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Guantanamo update

1. Transfers

A Spanish foreign ministry official confirmed on Monday 18 January 2010 that Spain will be accepting two detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. One of the detainees is said to be of Yemeni origin, while the nationality of the other was not released. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said last week that an agreement between Spain and the US was close to completion in anticipation of the transfer. The detainees are expected to be transferred to Spain over the next few weeks.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Friday 22 January 2010 that two Guantanamo Bay detainees have been transferred to Algeria. Hassan Zumiri had spent more than seven years in the Guantanamo detention center, while Adil Hadi al-Jazairi bin Hamlili had been held for five. (for more infos on the two detainees, see the link). Both men are Algerian nationals, bringing the total number of Algerians released from Guantanamo to 19. The announcement did not make clear whether the men went home as free men or were to be held by Algerian authorities for further trial or investigation under an agreement that transferred them to “the custody and control of the government of Algeria.”

The US DOJ announced on Monday 25 January 2010 that three Guantanamo Bay detainees have been transferred to Slovakia. The DOJ made this statement about the transfer:

“The identities of these three individuals are being withheld at the request of the Government of Slovakia for security and privacy reasons. The United States is grateful to the Government of Slovakia for its willingness to support US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”

The US DOJ announced on Tuesday 26 January 2010 that an Uzbek Guantanamo Bay detainee has been transferred to Switzerland. The detainee, whose identity will not be disclosed in order to facilitate his transition into life in Switzerland, was unanimously approved for transfer. The Swiss government agreed to accept the detainee for resettlement “on humanitarian grounds” after reassurances from the US that the man was not convicted of any crime and will not be a threat to public safety. The detainee was originally cleared for release in 2005, but could not return to Uzbekistan for fear of persecution.

2. New task force report

A yearlong review of evidence against men who are being held as terrorism suspects at Guantanamo has concluded that “roughly” 50 of the detainees should be held indefinitely, even when there isn’t enough valid evidence to prosecute them. Only 35 of the men should face trial, either in civilian or military courts, the review concluded. That’s far fewer than the 60 or 70 cases that the Pentagon’s chief prosecutor has originally said his unit is preparing to try before military commissions.

The review, whose results have been divulged to a handful of reporters but not publicly announced, provides the first specific numbers for what the Obama administration thinks should be done with the detainees who are still at Guantanamo.

The official didn’t explain how the panel had reached its decisions and didn’t break down the various categories of detainees by nationality. According to the official, Obama’s National Security Council still could revise the panel’s conclusions “in light of variables that could change a detainee’s status.” Among those variables, the official said, might be court rulings ordering their release or a change of conditions in a country such as Yemen.

3. Reprieve asks for further investigation into 2006 Guantanamo suicides
UK-based human rights group Reprieve issued a statement  on Tuesday 19 January 2010 suggesting that the Obama administration has suppressed information relating to the investigation of three 2006 Guantanamo Bay suicides and urging further inquiries. The statement comes in response to an article for an upcoming issue of Harper’s Magazine, in which former guards at the prison indicate that the three prisoners experienced intense interrogations in a remote area of the base just hours before the apparent suicide.

Lawsuit filed against Vision Airlines may uncover rendition evidence?

Vision Airlines is a U.S. government contractor doing work in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company is being sued now by employees who say it withheld millions in government hazard pay they earned for flying into war zones. The case was filed as a public record on Jan. 20. (Case 2:09-cv-00117-RLH-RJJ in the US District Court of Nevada PDF available here)

Three days later however Vision attorney Harold Gewerter requested that the case be temporarily sealed, which was agreed upon four days later by Judge Robert Johnston in the Federal Court. The case remains temporarily sealed until Johnston makes a final decision. Sealing the case, according to Vision attorney Harold Gewerter, is matter of protecting “confidential and classified information, wholly irrelevant to the ultimate claims of the plaintiff.” At its heart, this lawsuit is a payroll dispute.

The 28-page document sat open to the world for one week however, and some of the elements of the document which were open to the public for one week might confirm some of the alleged participation of Vision Airlines in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme, as documented in the 2006 report of Dick Marty to the inquiry of the European Parliament. (See p. 26 here on the use of Vision plane N368CE.)

The class action lawsuit alleges that at least 300 current and former employees were shortchanged when Vision decided it could “capture a financial windfall if it simply retained all the hazard pay … for its own benefit.” (par.38) The hazard in that hazard payi s explained clearly, as (par.10-11) “aircraft typically arrives under the cover of darkness which require all exterior and interior aircraft lighting (except for cockpit instruments) to be turned off,” which is a typical feature of a rendition flight as well.

In May 2005 Vision began providing air transport services, moving personnel and cargo twice weekly to and from Kabul Internationl Airport. (par.31) In addition to transporting cargo, Vision flew “diplomatic and other personnel” (par.33) to and from Kabul and Baghdad. A former Vision pilot, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Home News that the passengers typically included CIA and State Department personnel along with employees of private security contractor Blackwater.

Since Vision has been a government subcontractor, the company has based its freight loading and unloading operation in different cities. For a time, goods were loaded and unloaded in Frankfurt, Germany. Then it relocated the operation to Bucharest, Romania in the fall of 2006 (par.44) from the Banesa International Airport. Vision moved then from Bucharest to Bratislava in Slovakia in the spring of 2007, (par.47) replacing its Boeings 737 by 767s. Throughout 2007 ‘Vision aircraft kept on trasnsporting ‘diplomatic and other personnel’ to and from Kabul and Baghdad. Since the spring of 2008 Vision operates from Bucharest again.(par.53): ‘the weekly flight schedule remained the same for the trips to Baghdad and Kabul’ as well as the ‘transport of diplomatic and other personnel’ (par.54-55).

The Slovak Spectator reported that a Vision Boeing 737, with registration number N-34315,along with two Boeing 767s, N-731VA and N-742VA, had been flying into Bratislava en route between Washington and the Middle East for at least two years, until they disappeared from Bratislave Aiport on 11 March 2008. “One source said that the Slovak intelligence service, the SIS, had been informed of the flights, as had current Prime Minister Robert Fico and former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda,” according to the Spectator.

On the 12th of March 2008 the Hungarian daily Népszabadság ran a picture of the N34315 at Budapest’s international Ferihegy airport  and claimed it was being used to ferry terror suspects from South Asia and the Middle East to the United States.

Amnesty International Annual Report on 2008 – focus on terrorism issues

Amnesty International is calling for a New Global Deal on human rights, because of a human rights investment gap by world leaders.

“It’s not just the economy, it’s a human rights crisis – the world is sitting on a social, political and economic time bomb,” said Irene Khan.

Read the report from May 2009 on 2008’s events here.

Algeria:
According to media reports, between 60 and 90 civilians were killed in continuing political violence, many of them in bomb attacks for which a group calling itself the Al-Qa’ida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility. Dozens of suspected members of armed groups were killed in skirmishes and search operations by security forces; some may have been extrajudicially executed.

In May, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT)recommended that the government take measures to combat impunity, investigate all past and present cases of torture, including enforced disappearance and rape, and ensure that Algeria’s anti-terrorism measures comply with international human rights standards. However, the government took no steps in this regard.

The authorities, including the Department for Information and Security (DRS) military intelligence
agency, continued to detain terrorism suspects incommunicado, putting them at risk of torture and
other ill-treatment. Those detained included several Algerian nationals returned from other states.

  • Rabah Kadri, an Algerian national returned from France in April, was reported to have been arrested on arrival and then held incommunicado by the DRS until he was released without charge 12 days later.
  • Seven former detainees held at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay were returned to Algeria during 2008. All were arrested and detained incommunicado upon return for periods ranging from eight to 13 days. On release, they were placed under judicial control and faced charges of belonging to terrorist groups abroad.Fourteen Algerian nationals continued to be held at Guantánamo Bay.
  • People suspected of subversive activities or terrorism continued to face unfair trials. Some were denied access to legal counsel while held in pretrial detention. The courts accepted as evidence,without investigation, “confessions” that defendants alleged had been obtained under torture or other duress.
  • In January, Blida military prison authorities acknowledged for the first time the detention of Mohamed Rahmouni, although he had by then been held for six months. Although a civilian, he was expected to be tried before a military court in Blida on terrorism-related charges. He was not allowed access to his lawyer, who had made at least six unsuccessful attempts to visit him.
  • The trial of Malik Mejnoun and Abdelhakim Chenoui on charges of belonging to an armed terrorist group and of the murder of singer Lounes Matoub was postponed indefinitely in July. The two men, who had been held without trial for over nine years, partly in secret and incommunicado detention, remained in prison at the end of the year. Both alleged that they were tortured in detention but the authorities did not order an investigation, even though Abdelhakim Chenoui said that his “confession”, which implicated Malik Mejnoun, was extracted under duress.
  • At least 30 detainees held on terrorism-related charges at the prison of El Harrach said they were severely beaten by prison guards in February after they refused to return to their prison ward in protest against the transformation of their prayer zone. No investigations were conducted into the allegations. In May, the CAT urged the authorities to ensure that no detainees are held beyond the maximum period of pre-arraignment detention, to investigate
    reports of secret detention centres and to bring all DRS detention centres under the control of the civilian prison administration and judicial authorities.

Hundreds of people were sentenced to death, mostly on terrorism-related charges, but the authorities maintained a de facto moratorium on executions. Many of those sentenced were alleged members of armed groups who were tried and convicted in their absence. In December, Algeria co-sponsored a resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

Australia
Australian law allowing pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects remained in force. The law remains incompatible with international law. However, in December the government agreed to reforms and established a National Security Legislation Monitor to review the operation of the legislation.

In October, Joseph “Jack” Thomas, the first person to be placed under a control order restricting movement, association and communication, was acquitted of terrorism-related offences after a retrial.

The control order imposed on former Guantánamo Bay detainee David Hicks ended in December.

Azerbaijan
In September the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Said Dadaşbeyli, sentenced in December 2007 to 14 years’ imprisonment on charges relating to terrorism. Said Dadaşbeyli had headed a religious organization called NIMA, accused by the authorities of co-operating with Iranian secret services but which his family and lawyer said was involved only in charitable activities.

Bangladesh
The Anti-Terrorism Ordinance came into effect. Its broadly formulated definition of acts of terror further eroded safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention.

Belgium
On 7 February the Court of Appeal in Antwerp acquitted Bahar Kimyongür, Sükriye Akar Özordulu, Dursun Karatas and Zerrin Sari. They had been charged with membership of or support for a terrorist organization because of their links with a Turkish opposition group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front. The judge considered that there was no evidence linking them to terrorist plots, and that the group in Belgium was not a criminal or terrorist organization. Three others, including Fehriye Erdal, were acquitted of the terrorism-related charges but convicted of possessing firearms. However, on 24 June, following an appeal by the Public Prosecutor, the Court of Cassation overruled the acquittal. At the end of the year the defendants were awaiting a fourth trial, to be held before the Court of Appeal in Brussels in May 2009.

Bosnia
On 20 November Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the release of five of a group of six men of Algerian origin who had been illegally arrested in BiH and transferred to US custody at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002. The judge ruled there was enough evidence to keep the sixth man (Belkacem Bensayah) in detention.

Despite the order, the authorities of BiH agreed to accept only three of the men (Mustafa Aït Idir, Boudella El Hadj and Mohammed Nechle) and failed to undertake diplomatic measures to release the
remaining two detainees. The three men were released from Guantánamo and arrived in Sarajevo on
16 December. In June the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation against Zlatko Lagumdžija (former Prime Minister of BiH) and Tomislav Limov (former Minister of Interior) as well as against some lower ranking public officials for their alleged role in the unlawful arrest and handover of the six men to US custody.

Brazil
Violence against landless workers continued, often carried out by unregulated or insufficiently regulated private security companies hired by landowners or illegal militias. Forced evictions persisted, in many instances with complete disregard for due process of law. There were attempts to criminalize movements that support landless people in their efforts to secure land and agrarian reform.

In Rio Grande do Sul state, prosecutors and military police built up a dossier of numerous allegations against members of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, MST) in what the MST described as an attempt to curtail their activities and criminalize members. The dossier, which included allegations of MST links with international terrorist groups, was used to support legal appeals for evictions, a number of which were carried out by police with excessive force.

Canada
In February the government enacted reforms to the immigration security certificate system, following a 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decision, but the system remained unfair. Five men subject to certificates were released while court proceedings continued, some on very restrictive bail conditions. One man, Hassan Almrei, had been detained since October 2001.

In March, the Federal Court dismissed a challenge to the practice of transferring battlefield detainees in Afghanistan into Afghan custody where they were at serious risk of torture. This decision was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal in December. In October, a report was released of an inquiry into the role of Canadian officials in the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, all Canadian citizens who were detained and tortured abroad. The report identified numerous ways in which the actions of Canadian officials contributed to
violations of their rights.

The government continued to refuse to intervene with US officials regarding the case of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, arrested in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old and held for more than six years at Guantánamo Bay.

Chile
In November, a regional prosecutor in Temuco charged three students linked to the Mapuche cause, one of whom was 16 years old, under an anti-terrorism law dating from the military government of Augusto Pinochet. The charge related to their alleged involvement in a Molotov bomb (home-made incendiary) attack on police. The government had given repeated assurances that it did not support the application of anti-terrorist legislation in cases involving Indigenous protests.

China
The Uighur Muslim population in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China faced intensified persecution. The authorities used a series of violent incidents, allegedly linked to
terrorists, to launch a sweeping crackdown.

According to official media, almost 1,300 people were arrested during the year on terrorism, religious extremism or other state security charges, and 1,154 were formally charged and faced trials or administrative punishments. On 14 August, Wang Lequan, Party Secretary of the XUAR, announced a “life and death” struggle against Uighur “separatism”.

Ablikim Abdiriyim, the son of exiled Uighur human rights activist, Rebiya Kadeer, remained in Baijiahu prison on a charge of “separatism”, for which he was sentenced to nine years in prison in April 2007. On 6 December 2007, during the first permitted visit since his detention, his family found him to be in extremely poor health. Prison authorities attributed this to a heart condition, suggesting that it could deteriorate further if he refused to “cooperate” or “admit his guilt”. Despite ongoing requests from his family, the authorities refused to grant him parole for medical treatment.

Local authorities maintained tight control over religious practice, including prohibiting all government employees and children under the age of 18 from worshipping at mosques.

One hundred and sixty Uighur children, aged between eight and 14, who had been living and studying in a Hui Muslim area of Yunnan province, were reportedly arrested by police sent by the Public Security Bureau in the XUAR. They were brought to Urumqi and held in Baijiahu prison. Ten of the children were reportedly released after their parents paid 20,000 Yuan ($3,140). Those who could not pay were told that their children would be charged with participating in “illegal religious activities”.

According to reports, many people sentenced to death in the XUAR, some of whom had been given death sentences with two-year reprieves, were executed in 2008. Following domestic legal practice,
death sentences with two-year reprieves can be commuted to life imprisonment if individuals exhibit good behaviour during the first two years. With the exception of one Tibetan case, the XUAR remains the only region in China where individuals are executed for political crimes.

Ecuador
In March the Constituent Assembly amnestied several hundred detainees, most of whom had been arrested in the context of environmental protests. They included 37 people arrested in the town of Dayuma, Orellana Province, in December 2007, after the government declared a state of emergency in response to protests against oil operations. A number of the detainees who had been charged with terrorism had their charges dropped, including Provincial Prefect Guadalupe Llori. However, she remained imprisoned charged with fraud for almost 10 months. She was acquitted of all charges and released in September.

Egypt
Twenty-five members of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced in April to up to 10 years in prison by the Haikstep military court, including seven who were tried in their absence. Khairat al-Shatir, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, was jailed for seven years. Fifteen defendants were acquitted and released but banned from travel abroad. All were tried on terrorism-related and money laundering charges, which they denied. They appealed. Amnesty International observers were denied access to the trial.

The trial began in August before the (Emergency) Supreme State Security Court in Tanta of 49 people accused of involvement in violent protests on 6 April (see below). The defendants said they were blindfolded for nine days and tortured by State Security Investigation (SSI) officials in Mahalla and at Lazoghly Square, Cairo, after their arrests. Methods alleged included beatings, electric shocks and threats that their female relatives would be sexually abused. The authorities failed to order an independent investigation into their complaints, and confessions allegedly obtained through torture comprised the main evidence against the defendants. Twenty-two of the defendants were sentenced in December to up to five years in prison.

El Salvador

In February charges were dropped against 13 representatives of local social organizations in Suchitoto detained in July 2007. The 13 had been arrested following clashes with police during a protest about government policy on access to clean water, and were charged under the 2006 antiterrorism law.

France

In July, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern at anti-terrorism legislation adopted in 2006 and called on France to ensure all detainees were brought promptly before a judge, and had prompt access to a lawyer. The French authorities continued to forcibly return individuals to countries where they faced a risk of torture or other serious human rights violations.

  • On 14 April Rabah Kadri, an Algerian national, was released from Val de Reuil prison. He had completed the sentence imposed on him on 16 December 2004 by the Paris Criminal Court for involvement in a terrorist plot to bomb the Strasbourg Christmas market in 2000. He had been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, followed by a permanent prohibition from French territory. Immediately upon his release from prison, Rabah Kadri was taken into police custody andsubsequently returned to Algeria by sea on 15 April. Rabah Kadri arrived in Algiers on 16 April and was handed over to the Algerian authorities, who detained him incommunicado for 12 days at an undisclosed location.
  • On 21 April, Kamel Daoudi was released from La Santé prison after serving his sentence and immediately taken into custody pending expulsion to Algeria. In 2005, he was convicted of “criminal association in relation to a terrorist enterprise” and falsification of official documents and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and permanent prohibition from French territory. Originally an Algerian national, Kamel Daoudi had acquired French citizenship but in 2002 he was stripped of his French nationality due to the allegations of his involvement in terrorist groups, even though the criminal case against him was still in progress at the time. Following a request by Kamel Daoudi’s lawyer, on 23 April the European Court of Human Rights ordered the French authorities to suspend the deportation procedure while it considered whether Kamel Daoudi would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment if returned to Algeria. At the end of the year Kamel Daoudi was living under a “compulsory residence order” (which restricted his movements to certain areas of France and required him to report regularly to a police station) while awaiting the decision of the European Court.

Germany
The Federal Prosecutor stated in September that evidence obtained through “dubious circumstances” in a foreign country may be used – although carefully – in a criminal procedure, especially to prevent terrorist attacks. As well as stating that the burden of proof lies fully with the defendant, the Federal Prosecutor also argued that evidence obtained in a manner which violated German standards could be used to initiate a criminal investigation. He did not exclude evidence obtained through torture.

Draft regulatory rules governing the Aliens Act were proposed by the Ministry of Interior in October. The rules anticipated the use of diplomatic assurances to eliminate the danger of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment faced by those returned to their country of origin. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations considered such assurances in contravention of international obligations against torture.

Two Tunisian nationals continued to be at risk of expulsion on the basis that the Federal Ministry of Interior considered that assurances from the Tunisian government were sufficient to eliminate the risk the men would face on return. The judicial review of the cases was still pending at the end of the year. Criminal investigations to prove the involvement of one of the Tunisians in terrorism-related activities were closed in March.

In June the parliamentary committee of inquiry concluded its preliminary investigations into involvement by the German authorities in the US-led rendition programme. Government and intelligence officials were not willing to co-operate with the committee effectively. Delays and failures by the authorities to provide some of the files requested by the committee severely impeded its investigations.

The committee’s Special Prosecutor revealed that Egyptian nationals Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari were subject to rendition to Egypt in December 2001 through German airspace and that one CIA rendition flight, carrying the Egyptian national Abu Omar who was abducted in Italy in February 2003, had landed at Ramstein airbase en route to Egypt. The German authorities failed to introduce measures to prevent future renditions through its territory, including its air space.

In June, the Tübingen Public Prosecutor terminated investigations into the alleged illtreatment of Murat Kurnaz by members of the German Special Forces Command (Kommando Spezialkräfte, KSK) while in US custody in Afghanistan in 2002 for lack of evidence, although he accepted Murat Kurnaz’ testimony as credible. A request to hear US Army personnel as witnesses had been turned down by the US authorities. The parliamentary inquiry into the same allegations was closed in September for the same reason. However, members of opposition parties spoke of strong evidence supporting Murat Kurnaz’ allegations against the German soldiers.

In June, German national Khaled el-Masri filed a legal complaint to force the government to pursue the extradition of 13 US citizens suspected of transferring him illegally to Afghanistan. Extradition warrants were issued by a Munich court in January 2007 but not handed over to the US government.

India
The authorities responded to the November Mumbai attacks by tightening security legislation and setting up a federal investigating agency. The amended legislation includes sweeping and broad definitions of “acts of terrorism” and of membership of terrorist organizations and extends the minimum and maximum detention periods for terrorism suspects before they are charged.
More than 70 people were detained without charge, for periods ranging from one week to two months in connection with bomb-blasts in several states throughout the year. Reports of torture and other ill-treatment of suspects led to protests from both Muslim and Hindu organizations.

  • In November, the authorities in Andhra Pradesh announced cash compensation for 21 Muslims who had been detained without charge for five to ten days and tortured in the wake of multiple bomb-blasts in Hyderabad in August last year. No criminal proceedings were initiated against those responsible for their torture.
  • In January, Abujam Shidam, a college teacher and member of the opposition Manipur People’s Party, was arrested and tortured in police custody for four days following the December 2007 bomb-blast that killed seven people in Manipur. No action was taken against those responsible for his torture.
  • Despite ongoing protests, the authorities refused to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions stated that the Act could facilitate extrajudicial executions by giving security forces the power to shoot to kill in circumstances where they are not necessarily at imminent risk.
  • Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh joined the list of states that enacted special security legislation meant to control organized criminal activity. The legislation provided for detention without charge for periods ranging from six months to one year. Uttar Pradesh repealed a similar law.

Iraq
On 19 September, three women and five men fromone family were killed by a US air strike in the village of al-Dawr near Tikrit. The US authorities confirmed the attack, stating that four of those killed were “terrorist suspects”.

In June, the Kurdish parliament extended the application of the 2006 Anti-terrorism Law, which increased the number of capital offences, for a further two years.Two men were executed in April after being convicted in connection with a car bomb explosion in May 2005 in Erbil which killed 48 people.

Ireland
In November, the government established a Cabinet Committee on Aspects of International Human Rights. Its remit included reviewing, and making recommendations to strengthen, the statutory powers of the police and civil authorities regarding the search and inspection of aircraft potentially engaged in renditions.

Italy
Italy retained the so-called Pisanu Law, Law 155/05, which provides for expulsion orders of terrorist suspects. The expulsion can be ordered by the Minister of Interior or by a prefect when there is a presumption of terrorist connections. The Law does not provide for judicial confirmation or authorization of the expulsion decision and does not guarantee effective protection against forcible return to countries where there might be a risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Jordan
Two security suspects were released after being held in prolonged detention without trial in the General Intelligence Department in Amman.

  • ‘Isam al-‘Utaibi, also known as Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, was freed on 12 March after nearly three years in solitary confinement. In January the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that his detention was arbitrary.
  • Samer Helmi al-Barq was released in January, having been detained since October 2003 when he was unlawfully transferred to Jordan by US authorities. Arrested in Pakistan, he had been detained there for 14 days then handed over to the US authorities, who held him in a secret prison until transferring him to Jordan.

Kazakhstan
The National Security Service (NSS) was reported to have used counter-terrorism operations to target vulnerable groups and groups perceived as a threat to national and regional security, such as asylumseekers from Uzbekistan and China and members or suspected members of banned Islamic groups or Islamist parties.

  • In February, a court in Shimkent sentenced 14 men to long terms of imprisonment – up to 19 years – for planning a terrorist attack on the local NSS department. Most of the accused had been held in NSS detention facilities with very little access to lawyers, relatives or medical assistance. Claims of torture and other illtreatment to extract confessions were not investigated. Information extracted as a result of these confessions allegedly extracted under torture was admitted as evidence by the trial judge.

The authorities continued to co-operate with Uzbekistan, Russia and China in the name of regional
security and the “war on terror” in ways that breached their obligations under international human rights and refugee law. Kazakstani migration police continued to cooperate with their Uzbekistani counterparts and transmitted information on asylum-seekers and refugees to them. Uzbekistani authorities then exerted pressure on relatives in Uzbekistan to get those seeking protection to return voluntarily, in some cases even paying for relatives to travel to Kazakstan to trace the refugees and convince them to return.

In May, three Uzbekistani asylum-seekers were detained by Kazakstani police officers after they left the office of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, in the centre of Almaty. They were interrogated by Kazakstani and Uzbekistani officers and threatened with forcible return to Uzbekistan. They were only released after the joint intervention of representatives of the office of the UNHCR and the Kazakstan International Bureau of Human Rights.

Kenya
Some of the more than 40 victims of unlawful transfers from Kenya to Somalia and Ethiopia, who were held in secret and incommunicado detention in Ethiopia at the end of 2007, were released. Those released included at least eight Kenyans, despite the continued denial of the Kenyan government that no Kenyans were part of the unlawful transfers.

Mohamed Abdulmalik, a Kenyan national, was arrested by Kenyan police in February 2007 and
unlawfully transferred to US custody in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was believed to be held at the end of 2008. He was not charged with any offence, nor was he able to exercise his right under international law to challenge the lawfulness of his detention.By the end of 2008 the government had taken no action in response to calls for a thorough and independent investigation into the arrests, detention and transfer of these individuals, and their treatment during detention.

Kuwait
Four Kuwaiti men continued to be held at the US detention facility in Guantánamo Bay. On 22 October, US military prosecutors filed war crimes charges against two of them, Fouad al-Rabia and Faiz al-Kandari. If convicted of conspiracy and supporting terrorism, they could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

On 22 May, masked State Security officials detained Adel Abdul Salam al-Dhofairi, blindfolded, handcuffed and shackled him, and interrogated him over three days. They asked him to identify an Afghan man suspected of sending people to Afghanistan, and accused him of passing a small amount of money for families in need to this man, which he denied. The officials beat Adel al-Dhofairi severely, plunged him in freezing water and made him run blindfolded and handcuffed along a corridor. He was then taken before the prosecutor, who authorized his further detention for 15 days and fined him. He was released without charge after 18 days in detention. Adel al- Dhofairi’s attempt to lodge a complaint to the authorities was refused and no investigation was carried out.

Lebanon
On 5 June, the trial began before theMilitary Court in Beirut of Hassan Naba’ and 12 others referred to as the “Net of 13”. Detained in December 2005 and January 2006, they were charged with “plotting to commit terrorist acts”. In court, several of the defendants repudiated “confessions”made while held in pre-trial detention at the Information Branch of the Internal Security Department in Beirut and alleged that they were given under “police brutality and torture”, but the court failed to investigate their claims. Three of the defendants were released on bail on 25 September.

Liberia
Roy M. Belfast Jr (known as Charles McArthur Emmanuel or Charles “Chuckie” Taylor Jr), the son of Charles Taylor, was convicted at the end of October in a US court for torture and related crimes while serving as the head of the Anti Terrorist Unit in Liberia. This was the first ever conviction under the US Torture Victim Protection Act, which was enacted in 1994. Chuckie Taylor was also the first person to be tried and convicted for crimes under international law committed during the Liberian conflict. Sentencing was due in early 2009.

Libya
In April, the GDF announced that 90 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group had been released from prison following negotiations led by the GDF with the group’s leaders. The GDF stated that this represented a third of the group’s membership. The authorities did not disclose any information about two Libyan nationals, Abdesalam Safrani and Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda, who were detained when they were returned from US custody in Guantánamo Bay in December 2006 and September 2007 respectively. The lack of information raised fears for their safety and that of other Libyans who might be returned under similar circumstances. At least seven other Libyans continued to be held by the US authorities at Guantánamo Bay.

Macedonia
In July, 17 men, including 13 of those arrested in Brodec, were convicted of armed attacks against the police, preparation of a terrorist act and weapons possession.

The HRC in April and the UN Committee against Torture in May recommended that the authorities
open a new investigation into their part in the detention for 23 days in 2003 of Khaled el-Masri in a Skopje hotel. He was subsequently unlawfully transferred to the US authorities and flown to Afghanistan, where he was tortured. In October Khaled el-Masri filed a complaint against unknown police officers.

Mauritania
Scores of people, mostly suspected Islamist activists, were arrested in the context of counter-terror
measures. Among them were the men charged with killing four French tourists in Aleg in December 2007, and those charged with attacking the Israeli Embassy in Nouakchott in February. Others were suspected of having participated directly or indirectly in terrorist acts. Among those arrested were relatives of suspected Islamist activists. Some were released within two weeks, but at the end of 2008 many were still held without trial.

Many detainees, including those accused of belonging to al-Qa’ida in Maghreb, were detained incommunicado for prolonged periods, exceeding the 15 days allowed by law. Security forces and prison officers refused to allow some judicially authorized family visits.

The mother of an alleged Islamist activist, arrested at his home on 30 April and detained at the Army Chief of Staff headquarters, was refused access to her son despite obtaining authorization for a visit from a magistrate.

Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were recorded from scores of people including detainees at Dar Naïm prison. Some detainees, especially alleged Islamist activists, reported that they had been tortured with electric shocks. One said that he was given electric shocks on the soles of his feet. Another said that he was blindfolded, his hands and feet were tied behind his back and he was given electric shocks.

Montenegro

There was no progress in the bringing to justice of those responsible for the alleged torture of some members of a group of ethnic Albanians arrested in September 2006 during Operation Orlov let (Eagle’s flight).

Proceedings against the group of 12 men, including four US citizens, and five others had opened in May 2007 at Podgorica District Court. The case was not conducted in accordance with international standards as the evidence against them included testimonies extracted under duress or unlawfully obtained.

In August, 12 out of the 17 men were convicted of association for the purposes of terrorism and sentenced to prison terms of up to six and a half years. The others were convicted of possessing firearms and received suspended sentences, although the court subsequently ordered their detention.

In October, five members of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit involved in Operation Orlov let were convicted and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for the ill-treatment of Peter Sinistaj, father of one of the detainees.

Allegations of ill-treatment followed the arrest of more than 100 people involved in demonstrations in
October against Montenegro’s recognition of Kosovo; investigations were opened, including into allegations by Aleksandar Pejanović that he had been beaten with sticks by masked police officers.

Morocco
Some 190 suspected Islamist militants were convicted of terrorism-related offences and sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to life. According to reports, they included a Moroccan national who had been forcibly returned from Spain.

In February, the authorities said they had broken up a terrorist network led by Abdelkader Belliraj, a Belgian-Moroccan dual national. Some 35 people were arrested, including the leaders of three political parties – Al-Badil al-Hadari, the Oumma and the Party of Justice and Development. The Prime Minister then issued a decree dissolving Al-Badil al-Hadari, and a court rejected the Oumma party’s application for legal registration. The 35 faced a range of charges,including attempted murder, money laundering and financing terrorism. Their trial began in October and had not been completed by the end of the year. Some defence lawyers complained that the authorities failed to provide them with complete case files, others reported that their clients were tortured in custody.

Hundreds of Islamist prisoners convicted after the 2003 Casablanca bombing continued to call for judicial review of their trials, many of which were tainted with unexamined claims of confessions extracted under torture.

New Zealand
In October, the Solicitor-General, who is required to authorize prosecutions under the Terrorism Suppression Act, decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute in the case of 12 domestic terrorism suspects. The 12 suspects, plus six others suspected of related incidents, were instead charged with firearms offences under criminal law. In November, five of them were also charged with participating in a criminal gang.

Pakistan
On 21 November, Human Rights Minister Mumtaz Alam Gilani announced that a new law was being prepared to facilitate the recovery of disappeared people and stated that his ministry had 567 documented cases of enforced disappearance.On 25 November, the Senate Standing Committee on
Interior reportedly acknowledged that intelligence agencies maintained “countless hidden torture cells” across the country. Despite these initiatives, new cases of enforced disappearance were reported.

On 22 September, Dr Abdur Razaq was apprehended in Rawalpindi on his return from hospital. His wife filed a habeas corpus petition in the Islamabad High Court. On 7 November, state representatives denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. On 17 December, the court’s chief justice Sardar Mohammad Aslam reportedly said that “everyone knows where the missing people are”, ordering that the doctor be brought to court forthwith. By year end, his whereabouts remained unknown. His lawyer said that the doctor may have been disappeared for treating “terrorists”.

Peru
President García publicly accused the Association for Human Rights (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos, APRODEH) of “treason to the fatherland” after APRODEH made a statement to the European Parliament that they did not believe the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru, MRTA), an armed opposition group, was active. The European Parliament removed the MRTA from its list of terrorist organizations shortly afterwards. The Peruvian government immediately issued a decree withdrawing observer status in the National Council of Human Rights from the national coalition of human rights organizations (Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos) of which APRODEH is a member.

In March, 35 people working to ensure communities in Piura province had access to information and were adequately consulted about projected mining activities were accused of offences including acts of terrorism, incitement to commit violence, public order offences, illicit association, conspiracy to commit a crime, torture, assault, kidnapping, and criminal damage. Among the accused were members of human rights NGOs, community leaders and local officials. In October, some of the most serious charges were dropped owing to insufficient evidence. However, the prosecution lodged an appeal and proceedings regarding the remaining charges were continuing at the end of the year.

Poland
The European Commission said in February that it was still awaiting response from Poland to charges that it hosted CIA prisons where al-Qa’ida suspects were questioned and guards used methods akin to torture.

In April, as a result of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, Poland was urged to make public the findings of its investigations into the existence of CIA-operated secret detention centres in Poland, and to reply to the two communications sent by the European Commission requesting clarification of these allegations.

An investigation into the possible existence of CIA run secret detention centres was opened in March by the District Prosecutor of Warsaw and was transferred to the Organized Crime Unit of the National Prosecutor’s Office in June.

A letter on “CIA prisons in Poland”, said to have been handed by former Deputy Prime Minister
Roman Giertych to the incumbent Prime Minister about a secret memorandum issued by the Polish Intelligence Service in 2005, allegedly provided circumstantial evidence of a secret CIA detention centre on Polish soil between 2002 and 2005. The Prime Minister delivered the letter to the National Prosecutor on 1 September, which triggered a new official inquiry into the case by the National Prosecutor’s Office. The inquiry remained confidential and the list of witnesses was kept secret. However, reports suggested that a number of officials had been questioned by the end of the year.

In October, the Prime Minister promised to relieve various individuals from their obligation to keep state secrets, as previously requested by the National Prosecutor. The Chair of the parliament also gave his permission for members of parliament to testify.

Qatar
In May, the government acceded to the Gulf Cooperation Council Counter Terrorism Convention, 2004. This defines terrorism in very broad and vague terms, which could allow restriction or suppression of activities that constitute legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Qatar’s counter-terrorism laws are also overly broad and allow the authorities to detain suspects for up to six months without charge and for up to two years without trial on vaguely worded charges.

In July, the US authorities released Jarrallah al- Marri, a Qatari national, from Guantánamo Bay and returned him to Qatar. No charges were brought and he was released. His brother, Ali al-Marri, continued to be detained by the US authorities as an alleged enemy combatant.

Romania

In February 2008, a high-ranking Romanian official stated in a media interview that in 2004 and 2005 he had seen a black bus arrive five times in a secluded corner of the heavily guarded Mihail Kogălniceanu airport near Constanţa. He said that parcels that looked like bundled-up prisoners were taken from the bus and loaded onto the jet, which then left for North Africa with its cargo and two US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents on board. The official also said that US pilots routinely filed bogus flight plans, or none at all, and flew to undeclared destinations.

In February, the EC stated that Romania’s response to a request by the EU Commissioner on Justice, Freedom and Security for judicial inquiries into the existence of secret CIA detention centres on its territory was not complete. The EC again requested that Romania provide information on the possible
transfer or detention of people suspected of involvement in terrorism. President Traian Băsescu declared he had no knowledge of any suspect packages being transferred at Mihail Kogălniceanu airport and noted that the airport was open to Romanian and foreign journalists.

The government repeatedly denied any involvement in US rendition and secret detention programmes. It noted that an investigation conducted by a Senate commission of inquiry during 2006 and 2007 had found no evidence of such involvement. The commission’s report, much of which remained classified, concluded that “the accusations brought against Romania are groundless.” The report was adopted by the Senate in April 2008.

In August, the Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Romania – the Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH) filed a number of requests for information, including one to the Senate commission of inquiry. The commission responded in October that investigating the purpose of the flights entering Romania did not fall within its mandate which was “to investigate allegations regarding the existence of CIA detention centres on Romanian soil or of flights with planes hired by the CIA” on Romanian territory. As a result the commission had not requested and did not hold information about the purpose of the flights. It also stated that in May it had asked the competent authorities to consider declassifying certain information contained in its report; no decision had been made on this by the end of the year.

Russia

Armed opposition groups in Dagestan killed several high-ranking law enforcement officials. Several men accused of involvement with these armed groups were reportedly arbitrarily detained and tortured. Civilians were subjected to human rights violations during so-called counter-terrorism operations. One such operation lasted for about seven months during which time access to one village was partially blocked and villagers reportedly harassed by the military.

Saudi Arabia
The authorities invoked a wide range of repressive measures in the name of security and combating terrorism. The law prescribes harsh punishments for terrorism-related offences yet is vague and broadly drawn, encompassing the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and other legitimate activities. This reality was exacerbated by a secretive judiciary which fostered impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations.

The authorities detained hundreds of people on security grounds, including people forcibly returned from Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen. Thousands of others detained in previous years remained in prison under conditions of virtual secrecy. Most had been held incommunicado for long periods for interrogation and denied access to lawyers, medical assistance and family visits for months or years. None had been allowed to challenge the legality of their detention. The government stated that many of the detainees were being held for “re-education”. In April the authorities released 32 former inmates at Guantánamo Bay, who had been returned to Saudi Arabia by the US authorities in 2007 and detained; at least 24 others were still being held at the end of the year.

  • Eight Bahraini nationals were arrested on 28 February at a checkpoint during a short visit to Saudi Arabia. They were held incommunicado and in solitary confinement until 12 July, when they were released without charge or trial.

The tiny minority of security detainees brought to trial faced grossly unfair and secret proceedings.
These included brief sessions before a panel of three inquisitors, who may not have been judges, who questioned detainees about confessions or other statements they had made under interrogation while held incommunicado. Those convicted reportedly were sentenced to flogging in addition to prison
terms.

In October the government announced that a Special Criminal Court (SCC) was being established to try more than 900 detainees on capital charges, including murder and causing bomb explosions, but provided no other details. The defendants were expected to include eight men shown on Saudi Arabian television in 2007 “confessing” to planning terrorist attacks, a capital offence. All eight had been detained incommunicado for long periods and may have been tortured. Five are Saudi Arabian nationals: Abdullah and Ahmed Abdel Aziz al-Migrin, Khaled al-Kurdi, Mohamed Ali Hassan Zein and ‘Amir Abdul Hamid Al-Sa’di; two are Chadian nationals, Ali Issa Umar and Khalid Ali Tahir; and one, Muhammad Fatehi Al-Sayyid, is an Egyptian national. It was unclear at the end of the year whether any trials before the SCC had started. Some prisoners convicted of security offences continued to be held after serving their sentence.

  • Majed Nasser al-Shummari completed a three-year prison sentence in 2005 but remained in jail. He was convicted after a secret trial in Riyadh, during which he had no legal assistance, of charges related to a visit he had made to Afghanistan.

Kosovo
2001, in which 11 Serbs were killed and 22 severelyIn June Florim Ejupi was convicted of the bombing of the Niš Express bus near Podujevo/ë in February injured. He was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment for murder, attempted murder, terrorism, causing general danger, racial and other discrimination and unlawful possession of explosive material.

Slovakia
On 26 June, the Constitutional Court issued its decision in the case of Mustapha Labsi, an Algerian national held in Slovakia originally on the basis of an extradition request by Algeria. The Court concluded that the Supreme Court’s decision of 22 January, allowing the extradition of Mustapha Labsi to Algeria, had violated his right to judicial protection and had failed to fully consider the human rights situation in Algeria.

The Court reaffirmed the absolute duty of the authorities not to return anyone to a country where they face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Slovakia’s obligation not to rely on diplomatic assurances was also implicit in the judgement’s criticism of Regional and Supreme Court decisions.
The Supreme Court subsequently reconsidered Mustapha Labsi’s case and ruled on 7 August that he could not be deported to Algeria where he faced serious human rights violations including torture and other ill-treatment. He was released but immediately detained again on the basis of a deportation order dating from 2006. Mustapha Labsi applied again for asylum, which was rejected on 6 October. An appeal against the rejection of his asylum application and a legal case against his detention were pending at the end of the year.

Spain
The judicial investigation by the National Criminal Court continued into suspected rendition flights by CIA-operated aircraft and US military planes which stopped at Spanish military airports or crossed Spanish airspace. The government submitted information to the investigation regarding several flights to or from Guantánamo Bay between 2002 and 2007. In December top secret official documents from January 2002 were leaked to the press. These confirmed that the Spanish authorities at the time had knowingly authorized the use of Spanish military bases during the transfer of detainees to Guantánamo Bay, at the request of the US authorities.

On 5March, the National Criminal Court cancelled the European detention orders it had issued in December 2007 for Omar Deghayes and Jamil El Banna, and abandoned criminal proceedings against them. The two men had returned to the UK in December 2007 following several years inUS custody at Guantánamo Bay. They were both wanted by the Spanish authorities on terrorism-related charges.

The two men had returned to the UK in December 2007 following several years inUS custody at Guantánamo Bay. The National Criminal Court ordered that proceedings against Omar Deghayes and Jamil El Banna be abandoned. It stated that, although the Spanish investigation was initiated before the men’s detention in Guantánamo Bay, any information later revealed in court which had any connection to their detention in Guantánamo Bay would be inadmissible as evidence and could contaminate proceedings. The Court also concluded that given the illhealth of the accused, it would be inhumane to continue proceedings. The Court noted that bothmen had suffered torture and other ill-treatment while detained for a prolonged period of time outside the rule of law in Guantánamo Bay.

Sudan
Following the JEM attack on Omdurman, the Chief Justice established five special counter-terrorism courts, in a first application of the Counter-Terrorism Act promulgated in 2001. The special courts initially took on the trials of 37 named individuals. More than 50 defendants appeared in front of these courts in June, July and August. A total of 109 individuals were eventually scheduled for trial before the special courts.

By the end of August, 50 individuals had been sentenced to death by these courts following unfair trials. The trials failed to meet international standards of fairness in a number of ways. Some defendants were only allowed to meet their lawyers for the first time after their trial had begun and others were convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under torture.

A number of lawyers, mainly members of the Darfur Bar Association, organized themselves into a defence committee and volunteered to defend many those on trial before the special courts. These lawyers submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Court, contesting the constitutionality of the counterterrorism courts. The appeal was rejected. After the death sentences were passed, the lawyers appealed against the verdicts and sentences. The Special Court of Appeal had not ruled on the appeals by the end of 2008.

Swaziland
The Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) was signed into law by the King in August, after a parliamentary process involving little public input. The STA’s broad definition of “terrorist act” fails to meet the requirements of legality. Offences created under the Act excessively restrict a wide range of human rights, including freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression; freedom of association; and freedom of assembly. The STA limits the role of the courts and allows for seven days’ incommunicado detention without charge or trial.

Sweden
Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari were awarded around 3,160,000 Swedish kronor (€307,000) in compensation for the grave violations they suffered during and as a result of their unlawful deportation from Sweden to Egypt in December 2001. Both men were tortured while held incommunicado in Egypt.
They had been denied access to a full and fair asylum determination process in Sweden, and were deported on the strength of worthless “diplomatic assurances” given by the Egyptian authorities. Mohammed El Zari was released from prison in Egypt in October 2003, without ever having been charged. Ahmed Agiza remained in prison in Egypt,following an unfair trial before a military court.

The Swedish government did not make a final decision on the appeals brought by both men against the rejection of their applications for residence permits in Sweden. In June the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) called on Sweden to investigate in depth the reasons for the deportation of Mohammed El Zari and Ahmed Agiza and, if appropriate, prosecute those responsible.

Syria
Individuals cleared of involvement in terrorist acts or who are related to individuals suspected of involvement in such acts were subjected to arbitrary and incommunicado detention.

  • Basel Ghalyoun, who was forcibly returned to Syria by the Spanish authorities after the Spanish Supreme Court acquitted him of involvement in the 2004 bomb attacks on trains in Madrid, was detained on arrival on 22 July. He remained held incommunicado at the end of the year.
  • Muhammad Zammar, a victim of suspected unlawful rendition to Syria by the US authorities, remained in prison serving a 12-year sentence imposed by the SSSC despite the UNWorking Group’s announcement in June 2007 that his detention was arbitrary.
  • Two women, Usra al-Hussein and Bayan Saleh ‘Ali,were arrested on 31 July and 4 August respectively in al-‘Otayba, east of Damascus, and were still held at the end of 2008. The authorities gave no reason for their arrest but some sources suggested that it was related to their efforts to communicate with an international organization regarding the detention conditions of Usra al-Hussein’s husband, Jihad Diab, in the US military base at Guantánamo Bay.

Tunisia
The Code of Criminal Procedure was amended in March. This strengthened procedural guarantees for detainees by requiring public prosecutors and investigating judges to give reasons when they authorize the extension for three days of the normal pre-arraignment period of police custody (garde à vue) of detainees.

Trials in alleged terrorism-related cases were unfair and mostly resulted in defendants being sentenced to long prison terms. Those tried included people arrested in Tunisia as well as Tunisians forcibly returned by other states, despite concerns that they would be at risk of torture. Often, convictions rested exclusively on “confessions” that defendants had made while held incommunicado in pre-trial detention and which they retracted in court, alleging that they had been obtained under torture. Investigating judges and courts routinely failed to investigate such allegations. Some 450 people were sentenced on terrorism-related charges to prison terms during the year.

In June, the Italian authorities forcibly returned Sami Ben Khemais Essid to Tunisia despite fears for his safety. He was arrested on arrival as he had previously been sentenced, including by military courts, to prison terms totalling more than 100 years after being tried in his absence in several separate terrorism-related cases between 2000 and 2007. He challenged the sentences and in July and November was retried and sentenced in two separate cases to prison terms of eight and 11 years.

Ziad Fakraoui, who alleged that he had been tortured when held incommunicado at the Department of State Security in Tunis in 2005, was released in May but rearrested by state security officials on 25 June, two days after Amnesty International cited his case in a report on human rights violations in Tunisia. He was detained incommunicado for seven days before being taken before an investigating judge and charged with belonging to a terrorist organization and incitement to terrorism – the same charges on which he had been imprisoned following his arrest in 2005. He was acquitted of all charges and released on 25 November.

Turkey
Antiterrorism legislation was also used to restrict freedom of expression. Unfair trials persisted especially for those prosecuted under antiterrorism legislation, while barriers remained in bringing law enforcement officials to justice for human rights abuses.

Convictions under anti-terrorism laws were often based on insubstantial or unreliable evidence.

  • In June, Murat Işıkırık was sentenced to seven years in prison for “membership of a terrorist organization” on the basis of evidence that he participated in the funeral of a PKK member and was pictured giving a “V for victory” sign.
  • In September, Selahattin Ökten was sentenced to life imprisonment for taking part in armed activities for the PKK. He was convicted on the basis of an insubstantial witness statement allegedly obtained under torture.

Nine children, all members of the Diyarbakır Yenişehir Municipality Children’s Choir, were prosecuted under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for singing a Kurdish anthem among other songs at a cultural festival. They were acquitted at the first hearing, but an arrest warrant remained in force for the choir leader, Duygu Özge Bayar.

In January, Ethem Açıkalın, head of the Adana branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD), was prosecuted under anti-terrorism legislation after attending a press conference about an alleged extrajudicial execution. In August, he and another İHD member, Hüseyin Beyaz, said that they were ill-treated by police while investigating the arrest of DTP members. Hüseyin Beyaz’ arm was broken. An investigation was opened against Ethem Açıkalın and Hüseyin Beyaz for “resisting police officers”.

United Kingdom
Extension of pre-charge detention
In October, the House of Lords – the upper house of parliament – voted against proposals contained in the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008, to give a government minister the power to extend from 28 to 42 days the period for which people suspected of terrorismrelated offences could be detained by the police without being charged with an offence.

The government responded to the vote by withdrawing the proposals from the Counter- Terrorism Bill, and publishing a new piece of draft legislation containing similar proposals. The Home Secretary told Parliament that the government would ask it to pass this legislation in the future, “should the worst happen, and should a terrorist plot overtake us and threaten our current investigatory capabilities.”

In October, before the vote in the House of Lords, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment expressed its considerable concern over the existing provisions – and even more so over the possible new ones – regarding the permissible length of pre-charge detention in cases falling under the terrorism legislation.

Changes to coroners’ inquests
In October, the government withdrew from the Counter-Terrorism Bill provisions which related to coroners’ inquests, announcing its intention to reintroduce the proposals in forthcoming new legislation reforming the system of inquests more generally. These proposals, if passed, would have given a government minister the power to order that part or all of the evidence heard by a coroner’s inquest should be heard in secret, in the absence of the family of the deceased person and their legal representatives, where the minister considered it in the public interest to do so.

Control orders
As of 10 December, there were 15 control orders in force under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. These allow the government to impose restrictions of movement and association on people suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity, if deemed necessary for the protection of the public.

In October the Court of Appeal of England and Wales decided four appeals from individuals subject to control orders. The individuals were referred to as A.F., A.M., A.N. and A.E. In three of these cases – A.F., A.M. and A.N. – the High Court had ruled that the men had not been given a fair hearing; in the fourth, A.E., the High Court had ruled that the hearing was fair.

In each case the government had relied heavily on information which had not been disclosed to the individuals or their lawyers, and which had been heard in secret sessions of the court from which they were excluded. The Court of Appeal ruled that there was arguably
“no principle that a hearing will be unfair in the absence of open disclosure to the [controlled person] of an irreducible minimum of allegation or evidence”; but that, even if such a minimum of disclosure was required for fairness, this could “be met by disclosure of as little information as was provided [to A.F.]… which is very little indeed”. The Court of Appeal ruled that the cases of A.F. and A.N. should be reconsidered by the High Court. It dismissed, on grounds which were kept entirely secret, the government’s appeal against the High Court’s decision, itself entirely secret, in A.M.; and upheld the High Court’s ruling that A.E. had been given a fair hearing.

An appeal against aspects of these decisions to the UK’s highest court – the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (the Law Lords) – was pending at the end of the year. In July, the UN Human Rights Committee noted that control order hearings “in practice [deny] the person on whom the control order is served the direct opportunity to effectively challenge the allegations against him or her,” and recommended that the UK should “ensure that the judicial procedure […] complies with the principle of equality of arms, which requires access by the concerned person and the legal counsel of his own choice to the evidence on which the control order is made.”

Detention without trial
In February, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales ordered the Home Secretary to reconsider the government’s decision to refuse to give any compensation to Lotfi Raissi.

On 21 September 2001 Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian national, was arrested in London for his alleged participation in the attacks on 11 September 2001 in the USA. He was subsequently detained for almost five months, on the basis of an extradition request from the US authorities. In April 2002 a judge dismissed the request, saying that there had been “no evidence whatsoever” to support the allegation that Lotfi Raissi was involved in terrorism.
In February 2007, the High Court had endorsed the Home Secretary’s refusal to compensate Lotfi Raissi. The Court of Appeal overturned this decision, finding that the extradition proceedings had been “used as a device to circumvent the rule of English law”. By the end of the year no new decision on compensation had been reached.

Torture and other ill-treatment
Attempts continued to deport individuals alleged to pose a threat to national security to countries where they would be at real risk of grave human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment. The government continued to argue that “diplomatic assurances” – unenforceable promises from the countries to which these individuals were to be returned – were sufficient to reduce the risk they would face.

In April, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales ruled that the UK could not proceed with deportation in two cases involving diplomatic assurances.

In the case of two Libyan nationals, referred to as “A.S.” and “D.D.”, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), the tribunal which hears appeals against deportation on national security grounds, that the assurances obtained from the Libyan authorities were not sufficient to protect them from a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

In the case of Omar Othman (also known as Abu Qatada), a Jordanian national, the Court of Appeal found that the trial which he would face in Jordan – a trial in which SIAC said there was a high probability that evidence which may have been obtained by torture or inhuman or degrading treatment would be used against him – would amount to a flagrant violation of the right to a fair trial, and that the assurances given to the UK by Jordan would be no protection against this.

Following these decisions the Home Secretary announced that the government had “decided to discontinue deportation action in [the cases of D.D. and A.S.], and in the cases of 10 other Libyan
nationals”. At least five of those Libyan nationals were later made subject to control orders.

In October, the Law Lords heard an appeal by the government against the Court of Appeal’s decision regarding Abu Qatada. At the same time they heard appeals by two Algerian nationals, referred to as “B.B.” and “U.”, against an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal which had upheld SIAC’s conclusions that they could safely be returned to Algeria on the strength of assurances obtained from the Algerian authorities. The Law Lords were asked to consider the reliability of diplomatic assurances and the fairness of SIAC’s reliance on secret material. By the end of the year, no judgment had been given in these appeals. The men facing deportation with assurances remained either in detention or subject to extremely strict bail conditions.

Renditions
In February, the Foreign Secretary announced that he had been informed by the USA that, contrary to
repeated assurances, the USA had used the UK overseas territory of Diego Garcia on at least two occasions in 2002 for the purposes of transferring detainees in its programme of rendition and secret detention. The Foreign Secretary did not name the detainees involved.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national formerly resident in the UK, remained in US custody at
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In May, the Foreign Secretary told Parliament that “[UK] officials continue to discuss his case with the US”, but that the USA was “not currently inclined to agree to our request for [his] release and return”.

In October, a High Court hearing confirmed that an agent of the UK Security Service (MI5) had questioned Binyam Mohamed while he was detained in Pakistan in May 2002. The UK intelligence agencies had supplied information to the US authorities for use in the interrogation of Binyam Mohamed, in the knowledge that he was detained incommunicado and had been denied access to a lawyer. UK intelligence agents had continued to supply information for use in his interrogation even when it became clear that he was no longer detained in Pakistan but was in a third country, where US agents continued to have direct access to him.

The High Court found that in principle, the government should have disclosed to Binyam Mohamed’s lawyers information in its possession which could support his claim to have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, on the grounds that “the relationship of the [UK] Government to the [US]
authorities in connection with [Binyam Mohamed] was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing”.

Uzbekistan
In the name of national security and the fight against terrorism, the Uzbekistani authorities continued to actively seek the extradition of members or suspected members of banned Islamic movements or Islamist parties, such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Akramia, from neighbouring countries as well as the Russian Federation. Most of the men forcibly returned to Uzbekistan were held incommunicado, thus
increasing their risk of being tortured or otherwise illtreated.

  • Authorities in the Russian Federation continued to ignore decisions by the European Court of Human Rights to halt deportations of Uzbekistani asylumseekers pending examinations of their applications to the Court. In one such case, Abdugani Kamaliev was forcibly deported to Uzbekistan in November 2007 just days after being detained in the Russian Federation. In February, Abdugani Kamaliev’s relatives reported that upon his return to Uzbekistan he was subjected to torture or other ill-treatment in the Namangan regional pre-trial detention facility. By March, he had been sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.
  • In April the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the extradition of 12 refugees from Russia to Uzbekistan “would give rise to a violation of Article 3 [prohibition of torture] as they would face a serious risk of being subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment there.” The Court also stated that it was “not convinced by the Government’s argument that they had an obligation under international law to co-operate in fighting terrorism and had a duty to extradite the applicants who were accused of terrorist activities, irrespective of a threat of ill-treatment in the receiving country.” The Court also was “not persuaded that the assurances from the Uzbek authorities offered a reliable guarantee against the risk of ill-treatment” in this case. The 12 Uzbek men had been sought for their alleged participation in the Andizhan events.