Rulings 'make UK haven for terror suspects'

Human rights rulings make the UK a "safe haven" for suspected foreign terrorists, the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws said yesterday.

Lord Carlile said the rejection of the Government's argument that the risk of ill-treatment of foreign nationals deported on suspicion of being involved in terrorism needed to be balanced against the threat they posed if they were to remain caused problems for the UK.

"The effect is to make the UK a safe haven for some individuals whose determination is to damage the UK and its citizens – hardly a satisfactory situation save for the purist," he said.

In his annual review of counter-terror legislation published yesterday, Lord Carlile backed the Government's attempts to deport suspected foreign terrorists with assurances over their treatment once returned home.

But he warned that it was a "time-consuming process, requiring assurances that are public, credible and reliable".

Even once agreed, "there is no guarantee that the courts will accept them, given the relatively low legal threshold required for an individual to avoid deportation", he said.

The Government has argued that, where a person seeks to resist removal on the grounds of the risk of ill-treatment in their home country, this may be balanced against the threat they pose to national security if they remain.

It also argued that, if the person poses a risk to national security, this should affect the standard to which he must establish the risk of ill-treatment.

But both arguments were rejected by the European Court of Human Rights, Lord Carlile said.

"This leaves the UK reliant on DWA (deportation with assurances) arrangements."

Arrangements currently exist with Algeria, Jordan, Ethiopia, Libya and Lebanon, although the latter may need to be renegotiated "in the light of political developments there", he said.

Home Secretary Theresa May last week outlined plans for a stronger effort to deport foreign nationals involved in terrorist activity.

On control orders, Lord Carlile said the proposed replacement – terrorism prevention and investigation measures – "shares several characteristics with control orders (and would provide commensurate protection)".