UK Supreme Court accepts secret evidence and grants suspected terrorists deportation appeal

On 7th March 2012, in W (Algeria) (FC) and BB (Algeria) (FC) and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department, the UK Supreme Court unanimously agreed to grant suspected terrorists a deportation appeal. The Court accepted secret evidence of torture in Algeria, as it was established that Algerian state officials systematically practise torture with impunity and none have previously been prosecuted for it. The Algerian government provided the Secretary of State assurances that the appellants’ rights would not be violated upon deportation. However, the witness “W” provided inside information about this on the condition that the evidence and identity of the witness would be kept confidential within the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). Home Secretary Theresa May had objected to this on the ground that the evidence could remain unverifiable if W’s anonymity was maintained and that the information provided could  be a source of threat of terrorism or a threat to national security. She also contended that this might endanger the diplomatic relations with the foreign states involved. The Court was not convinced by these arguments. It indicated that these considerations do not outweigh the importance of arriving at a correct decision on the issue regarding the safety of the appellants on their return to Algeria, as there was a risk that they would be treated contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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