[JURIST] The UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) [official backgrounder] ruled Monday that a convicted terrorist from Jordan must return to his home country despite his arguments that he risks being tortured upon returning to Jordan. SIAC chairman Justice Ouseley said there was no real threat of persecution for Islamic cleric Abu Qatada [BBC profile], basing the commission's decision on a 2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) [PDF text; JURIST report] between the UK and Jordan that guarantees deportees will not face abuse upon their return. While many argue that the MOUs are meaningless agreements, UK Home Secretary John Reid [official profile] praised the commission's decision to recognize the pact since it would allow the UK to continue deporting security threats.
Qatada, who has been held in a UK prison for the past five years under anti-terrorism and immigration laws, plans to appeal the SIAC's ruling. He was convicted in Jordan [JURIST news archive] for terrorist attacks and is allegedly linked to al Qaeda, which Qatada denies. Amnesty International UK expressed concern [press release] Monday at the SIAC's ruling, saying the commission "discounted ample evidence showing the risk of torture if Abu Qatada is returned," including Amnesty's documentation of abuse of so-called "security suspects" such as beatings while victims are suspended from the ceiling for hours at a time. The UK has come under criticism [JURIST report] for its reliance on memorandums of understanding countries also including Libya and Libya. In 2005, Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture [official website] said the agreements circumvent the absolute prohibition in the Convention against Torture [text] against the forcible return of detainees to countries where there is a risk of torture or ill-treatment. BBC News has more.