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UN human rights experts concerned about detainees

UN rights experts on torture and counter-terrorism concerned about the fate of Guantánamo detainees

GENEVA (10 December 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on torture, Juan E. Méndez, and on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, today expressed dismay at the recent transfer of Djamel Ameziane from Guantánamo Bay to Algeria.

Mr. Ameziane, who fled Algeria two decades ago to escape violence and persecution, was sent back to his country by the United States Government despite precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requiring the US to honour its non-refoulementobligations - not to return people to places where their lives or enjoyment of human rights could be threatened.

“We are deeply concerned that the life of Mr. Ameziane could be in danger in Algeria,” the experts said, drawing attention to previous cases of forced returns to countries with a proven record of torture, when detainees were held for prolonged periods of time in incommunicado detention on return.

The Special Rapporteurs noted that the US Government has sought and obtained assurances of humane treatment from the Algerian authorities. “However,” they stressed, “diplomatic assurances are unreliable and ineffective in protecting against torture and ill-treatment, and States should not resort to them.”

“We have often seen diplomatic assurances used by Governments to circumvent the absolute prohibition of torture as established in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” the experts said.

“Diplomatic assurances are not legally binding. It is therefore unclear why States that violate binding obligations under treaty and customary international law should comply with non-binding assurances,” they added.

In 2010, the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and on human rights and counter-terrorism expressed their concern in relation to the US Supreme Court’s decision to transfer two Algerian detainees from Guantánamo Bay to Algeria.

The independent experts will follow up on the situation of Mr. Ameziane with the Algerian Government to ensure that he is treated humanely and with respect.


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