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MoUs against torture: Worth the paper they’re written on?

It may be difficult to comply with human rights law while deporting those accused of terrorism, but scrapping the Human Rights Act is not the answer, says Ben Keith

11 July 2017

In 2013, Theresa May, then home secretary, instigated the review of terrorist legislation and the deportation with assurances scheme (DWA) by David Anderson QC and Professor Clive Walker. It seems, from the interviews they are giving, that the DWA scheme has been completely ineffective.

The headlines that have been grabbed are about terrorists using human rights to avoid deportation. Sadly, the story is not so simple; it’s about the failure of the government to realise the realities of foreign policy and the limitations of the law in protecting individuals.

The DWA is a policy devised to allow the deportation of foreign nationals to states that have questionable human rights records. Where there are concerns about the treatment of deportees the government asks for an assurance or memoranda of understanding (MoU) that the state will comply with human rights. The UK curr...

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