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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
UK may opt out of EU asylum rules
Charles Clarke
Mr Clarke said the rules changed after the London bombings
The UK could opt out of a new directive banning the EU from sending people back to countries where they face torture, the Home Office has indicated.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke last week published the grounds on which foreigners considered to be promoting terrorism can be deported or excluded.

The Home Office is to begin proceedings to remove those who fall foul of its unacceptable behaviour list.

The EU is also to publish its rules for removing failed asylum seekers.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said ministers were waiting to see the new EU commission rules and stressed they would "only affect the UK if we opt in".

Civil liberties fears

And that, she added, would only happen if the new measures actually helped Britain.

Following the 7 July London bombings Mr Clarke issued the list of "unacceptable behaviour" by those said to indirectly threaten public order, national security, or the rule of law.

The grounds include provoking and glorifying terrorism but civil liberties groups fear deportees could be tortured in their homelands.

The government is still seeking assurances from several countries that no-one it deports will be ill-treated, but critics say such agreements are worthless and anyone suspected of supporting terrorism should be put on trial in this country.

The EU commission's proposal meanwhile is understood to cite the European Convention of Human Rights as the yardstick against which appeals must be judged by national courts.

That would mean judges had to take into account the possibility that someone being returned to a country with a poor human rights record might face "torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".

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