British plans to deport terror suspects will clash with civil liberties enjoyed by Europeans under the European Convention on Human Rights that prohibit torture, the Council of Europe said Tuesday.
Britain has called for the 25 EU member states to look at curbing some civil liberties–including changing the rules on deporting people suspected of inciting hatred or encouraging terrorism–to protect itself from terrorism.
The British government has drawn up its own criteria following the attacks on July 7 and 21. It said it would expel suspects to African and Middle Eastern countries which give assurances they uphold human rights and do not subject suspects to torture.
Britain’s guidelines would clash with the individual civil liberties enjoyed by Europeans under the European Convention on Human Rights, a legally binding document that was drawn up in 1948 by the Council of Europe, the continent’s top human rights body.
“The prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment … is absolute and nonnegotiable,” said Council of Europe chairman Terry Davis. “It is wrong to suggest that this … has changed as a result of the recent terrorist threats. There cannot be any question of ‘striking the right balance’ when absolute rights are at stake.”
Davis said diplomatic assurances from countries with a questionable human rights record must be assessed carefully and on a case-by-case basis.
Article 3 of the Convention gives citizens the right “not to be subjected to torture or degrading treatment.” Britain has suggested the charter should be reformed to better reflect the needs of Europe’s judicial systems.