Britain: Terror suspects claim detention caused mental harm

Strasbourg, 20 May (AKI) - The European Court of Human Rights is to consider claims from eleven terrorism suspects that they suffered psychiatric damage when they were imprisoned by the British government.

On Wednesday the court will hold a public hearing in Strasbourg to investigate the claims in a case brought against the British government.

The applicants, none of whom have British nationality, were allegedly involved in extreme Islamist terrorist groups with links to al-Qaeda, the court said in a statement.

Six of the applicants are Algerian, and the others are French, Jordanian, Moroccan and Tunisian. Another was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, and is stateless.

All eleven were detained after al-Qaeda's 11 September, 2001 attacks in the US. They were imprisoned at various times between December 2001 and October 2003 and initially held at Belmarsh Prison in London under Britain's 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act.

All the men were allegedly involved in Islamist terrorist groups with links to al-Qaeda such as the Salafite Group for Prayer and Combat (GSPC) formed in Algeria in 1998, the Tunisia Fighting Group.

The men are also said to be linked to a group of Algerian terrorists centred around al-Qaeda and GSPC member Abu Doha, known for his senior role in terror training camps in Afghanistan.

He was also linked to a Frankfurt-based cell accused of plotting to bomb the Strasbourg Christmas market in December, 1995.

The eleven are suspected of supplying false documents, purchasing IT equipment and helping young British Muslims travel from the UK to train for Jihad (holy war) in Afghanistan.

Three of the men were subsequently transferred to Broadmoor secure mental hospital following a deterioration in their mental health, including a suicide attempt.

Another was released on bail in April 2004 under conditions equivalent to house arrest, owing to serious concerns over his mental health.

A visit by Europe's top human rights watchdog, The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture, criticised the applicants' conditions of detention in Belmarsh Prison and Broadmoor Hospital and reported allegations of ill-treatment by staff.

In a report, The Council of Europe committee concluded the applicants' poor mental state was exacerbated by the indefinite nature of their detention.

The British Government categorically rejected the suggestion that the applicants were treated in an inhuman or degrading manner at any point during their detention.

As well as the mental harm they claim their detention in Britain caused them, the men also allege their detention was unlawful and they had only limited knowledge of the case against them and ability to challenge it.

Eight of the men still in prison or at Broadmoor were released after Part 4 of the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act was repealed. This followed a March 2005 ruling against it on human rights grounds by the House of Lords, Britain's upper house of parliament, sitting as the country's highest court .

The eight men were then placed under control orders, a series of restrictions on the freedom of movement of terrorism suspects.

The control orders were brought in by Britain's Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 to replace indefinite detention.

More recently, six of the men were place in immigration custody pending deportation to Algeria and Jordan, the European Court of Human Rights (photo) said.

Two of the men have returned voluntarily to their home countries, a court official told Adnkronos International.


print          send



Contact us