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Tuesday, October 04, 2005 

UK approaches Libya over deportation agreements.

Another day, another country with a poor human rights record is cosied up to by Labour so that alleged terrorist suspects can be deported from this septic isle:

The Guardian has established that Britain and the Gadafy regime have begun talks to reach an agreement which would allow Libyans deemed by the UK to be a terrorist threat to be returned there.

Libya has been accused by Amnesty International of having a poor human rights record, including using torture and the death penalty, and Britain will not officially confirm that the talks are taking place. Friends of the Libyan man arrested yesterday say that he is an opponent of the Gadafy regime and fears ill-treatment if deported to Libya.

Diplomatic sources said the negotiations began in August and that it was the UK that approached Libya to reach a memorandum of understanding.

Yesterday's raids were led by immigration officers supported by the police, and was the third such round-up of suspects since August. One man was arrested in London, another in Cardiff and three in the West Midlands. Anti-terrorism officers later executed search warrants at the addresses the men were arrested at.

The foreign nationals were detained using the home secretary's powers to deport those whose presence in Britain is deemed "not conducive to the public good".

A source described all five as being of "Middle Eastern" origin, and they were being held while the government tries to find a way of deporting them. It is understood that some were being held at Long Lartin prison, the same jail where some Algerians arrested under similar powers last month are being held.

The Foreign Office would not say whether it was negotiating with Libya. It recently reached an agreement allowing Britain to deport a Jordanian national suspected of terrorism, despite concerns about Jordan's human rights record. Under the agreement Jordan promised not to ill-treat anyone returned under the terms of the memorandum.

Yesterday's raids are part of a government crackdown on alleged Islamic extremists after the July 7 attacks on London. Ten people were detained for deportation in August, and a fortnight ago seven more people were detained. They included four Algerians cleared of involvement in a plot to use ricin poison.

Amnesty International said torture was "widely reported during incommunicado detention" in Libya last year and "security forces detain people arbitrarily for political reasons, holding them incommunicado for long periods without charge. Prisoners of conscience are also held."

For years the Gadafy regime was ostracised by the west. Relations between Libya and Britain improved after Tripoli allowed its nationals to stand trial for the Lockerbie bombing.

Yep, Britain wants to send back foreign nationals from here to the country run by the Mad Dog, as Ronald Reagan memorably described Colonel Gadafy. Libya has experienced something of a thaw in relations with the US and UK since they gave up their "weapons of mass destruction" programs at the end of 2003. Libya also agreed to pay compensation to victims of the Lockerbie bombing, despite many, including the late Paul Foot, who argued that Libya had nothing to do with it.

Despite all that, Libya is still undoubtedly practicing torture and carries out routine crackdowns on dissidents. For Britain to keep opening up contacts with countries such as these to get rid of suspects who could be tried here if they could be bothered to adjust the law is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Will we next be sending dissidents back to Saudi Arabia, as part of a deal for the Saudis to buy £40 billion worth of armaments from us? Oh wait, we're probably about to do that too.

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