Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  When I met your Committee on 17 January, I undertook to provide a written answer to the following question that we did not reach during the session.

The UK enters into memoranda of understanding with countries such as Jordan, Libya and Lebanon aimed at guaranteeing the safety of persons removed to those countries. The effectiveness of these guarantees depends entirely on the monitoring body. What steps does the Government take to ensure that these bodies are reputable, effective and trustworthy? What steps does it take to monitor the monitors?

  The Government believe that the memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon provide a framework to enable return of terrorist suspects to these countries in a manner consistent with our international human rights obligations. The British and Jordanian Governments have agreed that the Adaleh Centre will monitor implementation of the MOU in Jordan. The Government has reached agreement in principle with the Libyan Government and the proposed monitoring body.

  In selecting and appointing monitoring bodies, the British Government and the Government of the receiving state take into consideration: e.g. capacity, independence, access to expertise. Our Embassies in country are closely involved in the selection process and liaison with monitoring bodies once appointed.

23 January 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP

  Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) considered your letter at a meeting on 1 February, given their particular interest in the question about the Memoranda of Understanding with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon.

  In the case of Libya, you refer to the proposed monitoring body, but do not give its name. We would be glad to know this. In the case of both this body, and of the Adaleh Centre in Jordan, we would like to know why they were chosen, and what reasons the Government has for believing that they will adequately monitor the working of the agreements. We would also be grateful to know what steps the Government will be taking to monitor the working of these two MoUs, and in particular to evaluate the work of the two monitoring bodies.

  We will for the time being keep this document under scrutiny.

2 February 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Tony McNulty MP, Minister of State, Home Office

  Thank you for your letter of 7 December 2005[184] explaining the position regarding the Memorandum of Understanding with Libya. This was considered by Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union at its meeting on 15 February.

  When Douglas Alexander MP, the Minister for Europe, came to give oral evidence to the Select Committee last month, we put to him questions on the monitoring of the operation of MoUs with Libya and other countries. There are problems on this which we are still pursuing with FCO ministers, but meanwhile we are happy to clear this document from scrutiny.

16 February 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 2 February relating to the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon. I am sorry it has taken longer than usual to reply.

  MOUs are bilateral international instruments that the UK has negotiated with other Governments to permit the deportation of individuals who threaten our security to their countries of origin. Under these MOUs, Governments undertake—at the highest possible level—to safeguard the wellbeing of those deported. These undertakings are ones that we should and can trust. We believe, on the basis of the evidence we have, that Governments who give us assurances in respect of a particular individual will abide by them.

  In selecting and appointing monitoring bodies, the British Government and the Government of the receiving state work closely together to establish their suitability, taking into consideration various factors, including capacity, independence and access to expertise. The monitoring body must have capacity for the task, with access to experts trained in detecting physical and psychological signs of torture and ill-treatment and must have, or must have access to, sufficient independent lawyers, doctors, forensic specialists, psychologists, and specialists on human rights, humanitarian law, prison systems and the police. Where necessary, additional training or capacity building measures can be provided to ensure the monitoring body can function effectively, as the UK is already doing in Jordan. The monitoring body should also provide regular reports to the sending State and should contact the sending State immediately if its observations warrant. Our Embassies are closely involved in the selection process and liaison with monitoring bodies once appointed.

  As you know, the Adaleh Centre has agreed to act as the monitoring body in Jordan. We have made good progress in establishing effective monitoring arrangements in Libya but are not yet in a position to release full details at this time as discussions are still ongoing.

  The EU's Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism is designed to provide for a systematic assessment of co-operation with third countries on combating illegal immigration, and is seen as helping to achieve greater consistency in the EU's relationships with third countries. The mechanism is not designed to monitor third countries with regards solely to returns, although that is one aspect. The mechanism will aid the EU's monitoring of those countries with whom readmission agreements have either been concluded or are still in the process of negotiation. The memoranda of understanding on deportations with assurances (which I assume is the MoU being referred to here) that the UK is pursuing with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon are bilateral arrangements, and as such would not be monitored by the EU.

3 March 2006

184   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 527. Back

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