11 Apr 2012

Very real concerns re extradition not answered

So the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that five terrorism suspects, including Babar Ahmad - a British citizen who has been held without charge or trial for over seven years - can be extradited to the US. Well it is not so simple as that - and in much of the news the whole story seems to have been missed. See Caroline Lucas' press release here - she called for a public enquiry into Babar Ahmad's case in November 2011 after the Crown Prosecution Service admitted that evidence it should have received in order to make a decision was in fact sent to the United States instead.

Caroline said in the press release yesterday: "The decision by the European Court of Human Rights to support the extradition of Babar Ahmad is a crushing disappointment for Babar and his family - and for the 140,000-plus people who signed the e-petition to grant him a trial in his own country. The focus in today's headlines on extremist hate-preacher Abu Hamza should not distract away from the serious injustices in the case of Babar Ahmad and others, and from the need to stop the UK government from outsourcing British justice to the US. Ultimately, the mishandling of Babar Ahmad's case represents a shocking failure of our justice system. The fact that the CPS revealed so late in the day that they did not have all the evidence against him, letting Babar languish in prison with the threat of extradition and the false belief that the evidence had been considered, is appalling. On our unfair extradition laws, Parliament has already made its voice clear - passing a motion with cross party support in favour of urgent change. Last month David Cameron rightly raised the matter with President Obama, but the Government must now bring forward legislation to match. Babar has three months before he is likely to be extradited, so Ministers should put an urgent Bill into the Queen's Speech on 9 May. Once again, I add my voice to those calling for an immediate public inquiry into the case of Babar Ahmad, and an urgent change to the dangerously asymmetric extradition treaty between our country and the US."

Meanwhile in my email box there was also a comment from Executive Director of CagePrisoners, Asim Qureshi, who said of the ruling: “The suggestion that those suspected of being involved in terrorism are able to receive fair treatment in a US supermax prison is an utterly preposterous notion. The extent of problems associated with confinement in American prisons has been well documented by leading NGOs around the world. Despite the ruling on treatment, there remain more important questions in relation to the manner of the extradition proceedings in the first place. Without the opportunity to challenge any evidence in a prima facie case here in the UK, those facing extradition will be brought before a legal system which has fundamental flaws in the way that it prosecutes national security cases.”

See report by CagePrisoners here.

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