House of Lords rule in favour of the Home Secretary in deportation case

18 Feb 2009

RB (Algeria) and another v Home Secretary [2009] UKHL 10

Robert Palmer was junior counsel for the Home Secretary in these appeals, in which the House of Lords found in favour of the Home Secretary on all the points argued, which turned on issues arising principally under Articles 3 and 6 of the ECHR. The appeals arose out of deportation proceedings instituted against two Algerian nationals who the Home Secretary considers are a risk to national security; a third Jordanian nation’s appeal was heard at the same time: he is the Islamist cleric better known as Abu Qatada. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) had dismissed all their appeals.

The House of Lords held that it was permissible for the Home Secretary and SIAC to rely on inter-governmental assurances about the treatment of the deportees after their return to their countries of origin to conclude that they would not (as they would otherwise have been without such assurances) be at risk of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment. The House of Lords also decided that procedures of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission for considering evidence only disclosed to a Special Advocate and not the Appellant himself are not unfair. The case is also important for the conclusion that the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction, on an appeal from SIAC, is limited to questions of law as provided by the statute even in relation to human rights issues; consideration of such issues does not automatically raise questions of law but may (as here) be purely matters of factual assessment for SIAC.

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