30 Mar 2009

Caroline Lucas acts over the detention of 'Mr U'

Caroline Lucas MEP challenges UK Government over continued detention of Algerian without charge under ‘draconian’ anti-terror laws

Euro-MP and Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas has today called on the Home Secretary to end the state persecution of the man known as ‘Mr U’. The Algerian national has been subjected to detention and home arrest for 8 years under ‘anti-terrorism’ legislation – despite no charges having ever being brought against him.

Dr Lucas has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to question the most recent arrest of Mr U, who is currently in limbo in Belmarsh Prison awaiting the results of a review of his case from the Special Immigration and Appeals Commission (SIAC).

The MEP has also challenged the powers held by SIAC, a Government body which rules on appeals against decisions made by the Home Office to deport, or exclude, someone from the UK on national security grounds.

Mr U, who fled war-torn Algeria in 1992 and claimed asylum in the UK, lived and worked in Britain for several years – but was arrested in 2001 on the basis of secret evidence. Threatened with deportation to Algeria where he could face torture, the evidence against him and the materials that provided the grounds for his deportation are unknown.

Caroline Lucas MEP said: “Once again we find the Government using repressive ‘anti-terror’ legislation as an excuse to gradually chip away at the civil liberties of individuals in this country. We are now so accustomed to seemingly arbitrary arrests and detentions which so clearly breach human rights law that it is easy to forget what the Government’s repressive tactics mean for the individuals involved.

“The authorities have had eight years to make a case against Mr U, but have chosen instead to keep him in a state of limbo and subject him to tyrannical bail conditions.

“Despite repeated intrusive searches by police and immigration officials during this period of house arrest, under conditions that even the SIAC judge described as ‘draconian’, no evidence was found of Mr U breaking his bail conditions – yet he was once again detained on 26 February.”

Dr Lucas MEP continued: “Ironically, Mr U has said that one of the reasons he sought asylum in the UK was because of its reputation abroad for upholding justice. This Government’s willingness to abuse the rights of individuals brings shame upon our nation – and our supposed commitment to the core principles of justice and equality.

“If there is sufficient evidence to detain and deport Mr U, why has it not been made available to him and his lawyers? Why has it not yet been used to charge him? If he is guilty of any crime, he must be charged immediately or else released.

“This Government is fast gaining a reputation for its active role in perpetrating injustice against individuals – not to mention its willingness to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses at home and abroad. SIAC should not be allowed to rule on such cases – especially when there is little to no chance of appeal.”

She concluded: “We must call ministers to account for their ongoing use of so-called ‘anti terrorism’ legislation as a smokescreen behind which to seriously undermine the human rights of individuals – and say very clearly that the British public will not tolerate it.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1) The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) is a superior court of record created by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997. It deals with appeals in cases where the Secretary of State for the Home Department exercises statutory powers to deport, or exclude, someone from the UK on national security grounds, or for other public interest reasons.

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