On Friday 10 March 2006, a small group of campaigners gathered outside the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London to mark the start of hearings to decide whether men can be deported to Algeria.
The government has been trying to obtain a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU), with countries like Algeria and Tunisia, that will allow it to deport suspected terrorists with diplomatic assurances that they will not be tortured. (The government has already obtained such assurances from the governments in Jordan, Libya and Lebanon.) Those the government wishes to deport include Algerian men in some limbo. Some were charged in connection with last years ‘ricin’ terrorist cases and cleared of any involvement by a jury. Some of the men are detained in prison, others have been electronically tagged and have strict bail conditions applied to their movements and activities – such as not being allowed access to computers or phones, or not being allowed un-vetted visitors.
At the hearing on 10 March the lawyers for the men argued that the appeal process should go ahead without the MOU, as on 24 February the SIAC set a deadline for the government to reach agreement with the countries (i.e. Tunisia and Algeria). The government has missed that deadline. Meanwhile, the lawyers for the men say that the proposed MOU is ‘not worth the paper it is written on’, that the rule of law should be applied and that the men should be tried in court or released.