Slovakia: Justice minister must stop extradition

Amnesty International is deeply dismayed at today’s decision by the Supreme Court in Slovakia which gives the green light for the extradition of Mustapha Labsi to  Algeria, where he is at serious risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The organization is calling on the Slovak Minister of Justice, Štefan Harabin, to stop the extradition.

“Returning Mustapha Labsi to Algeria would be a breach of Slovakia’s obligations under international human rights law not to send a person to a country where they would face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment or other serious human rights violations. Mustapha Labsi’s case, and Slovakia’s compliance with its international obligations, is now in the hands of the Minister of Justice. Only he can now stop the extradition of Mustapha Labsi to Algeria,” said Ruben Barbado, Amnesty International’s researcher on Slovakia.

Algerian national Mustapha Labsi has been in custody in Bratislava since 3 May 2007 on the basis of a request by Algeria for his extradition. He applied for asylum on 27 June; this was refused on 24 September. The Bratislava Regional Court ruled on 30 November that it would be permissible to extradite him.

According to information submitted to Slovakia by the Algerian authorities, Mustapha Labsi was tried in absentiain Algeria and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges related to terrorism.

“Algeria’s assurances that if Mustapha Labsi were to be returned, he would have the right to a new, fair trial, are not worth the paper they are printed on,” Ruben Barbado said.

The UN Human Rights Committee recently evaluated Algeria’s respect for its obligations under the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, including its obligations to respect the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment and to ensure fair trials. These conclusions as well as Amnesty International’s research indicate that those accused of “terrorism” are routinely held incommunicado and in secret locations, which puts them at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

“The Slovak authorities should not base a decision to extradite Mustapha Labsi on any promises made by Algerian diplomats. As underscored by the UN General Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur against Torture, such ‘assurances’ do not release the Slovak authorities from their obligations under international law not to send a person to a place where they face a real risk of serious human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment.”