UK judges to consider whether 'coerced evidence' led to terror detentions

[JURIST] In order to comply with Thursday's judgment [PDF text; JURIST report] from the UK Law Lords banning the use of evidence obtained through torture, judges on Britain's Special Immigration Appeals Court (SIAC) will hold hearings early next year to determine whether evidence used in as many as 30 terrorism cases was obtained by torture. The SIAC hears appeals of deportation orders [backgrounder] when the decision to remove someone from the UK involves national security or other sensitive information. UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile], has said that orders to detain terror suspects do not rely on "coerced evidence" though human rights activists disagree. There have been allegations that torture was involved in obtaining evidence used during the ricin trial [JURIST report] earlier this year. In that case, a group of Algerians faced charges for plotting to spread ricin and other poisons in Britain. One defendant was convicted, though four others were acquitted and now face deportation proceedings. Another terror suspect whose case will be reviewed by the SIAC is Mohammed Meguerba, an Algerian arrested in 2002 on terrorism charges. Meguerba's lawyers claim he was tortured while in detention in Algeria and that this led to his alleged confession; Algerian officials have denied this accusation. Under the Law Lords ruling, the government will only have to prove that it is more likely than not that evidence is not a product of torture, rather than the "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. The Guardian has more.

 

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