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Apr 28, 2010

Focus:Human Rights
Action Request:Write E-Mail
Location:Algeria
Action Required : Mustapha Labsi at risk of Torture

Source : Support Mustapha Labsi Campaign
24th April 2010

Background

On April 19 2010, Slovakia deported an Algerian asylum seeker, Mustapha Labsi to Algeria, where he is at risk of torture and ill treatment. Labsi is at increased risk since he was given a life sentence in absentia in Algeria. There are grave concerns for Mustapha Labsi's welfare.

Mustapha Labsi spent over five years in detention in the UK without charge or trial, before being extradited to France. In 2006 he was sentenced in France to five years in prison after being accused of terrorism offences there. However he was deemed to have served out his sentence whilst awaiting extradition in the UK and was released. He was subsequently detained again without charge in Slovakia in May 2007 on the basis of an extradition request by Algeria. Despite media reports that Slovakia deported Labsi under a guarantee that he would not be tortured or executed, Algeria is notorious for its human rights abuses.

The Constitutional Court concluded that the Supreme Court's decision of January 2008, allowing Labsi's extradition relying upon diplomatic assurances, had violated his right to judicidial protection and had failed to consider the human rights situation in Algeria. The Court reaffirmed the duty of the authorities not to return anyone to a country where the individual would face a real risk of torture or ill treatment. Slovakia's obligation not to rely on diplomatic assurances was implicit in the judgement's criticism of a Bratislava Regional Court decision issued in November 2008 and the Supreme Court Decision of January 2008. The Supreme Court reconsidered Labsi's case and subsequently ruled that he could not be deported to Algeria in August 2008. Although he was released he was immediately imprisoned on a deportation order dating from 2006. His application for asylum was subsequently rejected in October 2008, a decision that was affirmed by the regional court in Bratislava in late 2009. Following this ruling Mustapha fled to Austria in December 2009 only to be forcibly returned to Slovakia in March 2010.

In a report released by Amnesty International in March 2010, "Dangerous Deals - Europe's Reliance on Diplomatic Assurances Against Torture", the human rights NGO called on the Slovak authorities to comply with the court's decision and refrain from deporting Mustapha Labsi to Algeria and that the government should abandon henceforth any use of such assurances in future cases. There are numerous cases of detainees being deported from Europe to their North African country of origin and faced further detention and torture as a result, despite the use of diplomatic assurances.

Slovakia claimed that they were entitled to do this because of the “safety of the nation”, however the case of Saadi vs Italy (2008) in the European Court expressly forbid this to be taken into consideration :-

“It is not possible to weigh the risk of ill-treatment against the reasons put forward for the expulsion in order to determine whether the responsibility of a State is engaged under Article 3, even where such treatment is inflicted by another State. In that connection, the conduct of the person concerned, however undesirable or dangerous, cannot be taken into account.”

We would remind Slovakia that they are members of the European Union, and as such are bound by their laws. To deport Mustapha to torture is of course strictly forbidden under European and International law. In particular we would call attention to the following :-

“No Contracting State shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”


(1951 Refugee Convention )
The UN Convention against torture also states :-
“No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture”

(Article 3, UN Committee against torture)

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
(Article 3, European Convention on Human Rights)

We would also request Algeria that they provide Mustapha Labsi with a fair hearing, to provide him with fair treatment, and to release him so that he may clear his name at the earliest opportunity in an open and just court.

Actions Required

Write to the Algerian Authorities, asking them to provide Mustapha with a fair hearing and to release him to clear his name.

Write to the Slovakian Authorities, reminding them that in their actions they have broken European Law

Inform the European Court of the disdain that the Slovakian Government showed to the Court

Inform human rights organisations regarding this case

Key Contacts

HE Mr Juraj Zervan
Embassy of the Slovak Republic
25 Kensington Palace Gardens
London W8 4QY
Email: mail@slovakembassy.co.uk
See http://slovakia.embassyhomepage.com/index.htm for details of your local embassy 


Abdelaziz Bouteflika

President de la Republique

Presidence de la Republique

El Mouradia
Alger,
Algeria
Fax: +213 21 609618/ 691595
E-mail: president@el-mouradia.dz

Tayeb Belaiz
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
8 Place Bir Hakem
16030 El Bihar
Alger
Algeria
Fax: +213 21 922956/ 921701/ 925557
E-mail:belaiztayeb@mjustice.dz

Antonio Guterres
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2
Suisse.

Navanethem Pillay
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 917 9220
Email: InfoDesk@ohchr.org

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
Parliamentary Assembly
Council of Europe
Avenue de l'Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel: +33/ 388 41 20 00
Fax: +33/ 388 41 27 81
webmaster.assembly@coe.int

Mr Hugh CHETWYND, Head of Division
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex
France
Tel.: France: 03 88 41 39 39, Int.: +33 3 88 41 39 39
Fax: France: 03 88 41 27 72, Int.: +33 3 88 41 27 72
E-mail: cptdoc@coe.int

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex
FRANCE
Tel: + 33 (0)3 88 41 34 21
Fax: + 33 (0)3 90 21 50 53
Commissioner@coe.int

Mr. Martin Scheinin
Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Genève 10
Email: scronin@ohchr.org
Fax: +41 22 917 9006

Mr. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on Torture
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Genève 10
Email: bkainz@ohchr.org
Fax: +41 22 917 9006


Sample Letter To Algeria

Dear ,

I am writing to you concerning Mustapha Labsi, an Algerian who was recently deported to Algeria by Slovakia, despite European law forbidding this as it was feared that he may be subjected to torture and ill-treatment upon his return. I would urge you to dispel such perceptions by immediately freeing this prisoner of conscience whose only crime was to be a Muslim from North Africa seeking a better life in Europe.

Mustapha Labsi has a wife and young son still in Europe who are incredibly reliant upon him, and it is to his immense credit that he has stayed calm during his treatment and enforced separation from them at the hands of numerous European governments, with the conclusion now being that he finds himself at whereabouts unknown in Algeria, with his family and friends deeply concerned regarding his welfare.

We would request that you make enquiries to ensure that Mustapha Labsi is being treated fairly, is being provided with the opportunity to be aware of any charges against him and being provided with the ability to conduct his defense of any charges that arise, and to be enabled contact with his family, friends and legal representatives.

I hope that you will provide Mustapha with fair and just treatment, and to immediately free him so that he may be reunited with his family.

Regards,



Sample Letter To Slovakia and European Court

Dear ,

I am writing to you concerning Mustapha Labsi, An Algerian who was recently deported to Algeria by Slovakia, despite European law forbidding this as it was felt that he may be subjected to torture and ill-treatment upon his return. A succession of European Governments, originating with the United Kingdom and ending with Slovakia, wished this individual harm for no reason but political capital in their respective countries.

Mustapha Labsi has a wife and young son still in Europe who are incredibly reliant upon him, and it is to his immense credit that he has stayed calm during his treatment and enforced separation from them at the hands of numerous European governments, with the conclusion now being that he finds himself at whereabouts unknown in Algeria, with his family and friends deeply concerned regarding his welfare.

We are especially disappointed that Slovakia, a recent member of the European Community, has shown such contempt for European Law in only its first few years of full membership, and it would certainly set a worrying pattern if it was shown that it continued to demonstrate such flagrant violations of the conventions it is a signatory to.

In particular, I would call your attention to the following :-

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
(Article 3, European Convention on Human Rights)

Indeed, in the Judgement of Saadi vs Italy in the European court, it was stated :-
“It is not possible to weigh the risk of ill-treatment against the reasons put forward for the expulsion in order to determine whether the responsibility of a State is engaged under Article 3, even where such treatment is inflicted by another State. In that connection, the conduct of the person concerned, however undesirable or dangerous, cannot be taken into account.”

Therefore there can be no justification nor excuses from the Slovakian government in deporting Mustapha Labsi to a region where he would be at risk of torture and ill-treatment.

We would request that you make enquiries with the Algerian Government to ensure that Mustapha Labsi is being treated fairly, is being provided with the opportunity to be aware of any charges against him and being provided with the ability to conduct his defense of any charges that arise, and to be enabled contact with his family, friends and legal representatives.

We would also urge that a stiff deterrent is forthcoming towards the individuals and courts who abused the rulings of the European Court through their own political aims and objectives, and ensure that no such illegal decision is taken in the future.

Regards,

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Wednesday April 28, 2010, 12:59 pm
Tags: human rights [add/edit tags]

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