Abu Qatada deportation: what about our principles?


by Septicisle    
2:58 pm - February 8th 2012

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It seems only last month that we were discussing why Abu Qatada should or shouldn’t be deported.

The government of whichever hue convinced isd still trying to deport him back to Jordan, with those few on the other side quietly pointing out that we could have avoided all this palaver had we attempted to put him on trial here in the first place, rather than sending him back into the welcoming arms of the authoritarian state he fled from.

We did after all grant him asylum back in the care-free 90s, unconcerned as we were then of the phantom of exploding Muslims.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the danger from Qatada, such as it is, isn’t that he will personally launch an attack: it’s rather than he’s provided theological guidance and motivation to jihadists in the past, and given the opportunity possibly will again.

This makes the threat he poses under a 22 hour curfew, accompanied by surveillance, a tag and a ban on anyone visiting him who doesn’t receive Home Office approval almost negligible.

If anything he probably poses more of one where he currently is in HMP Long Lartin, where he can at least mix with the other detainees in the special immigration unit being held in similar circumstances to his.

It’s been a well established point of law for a long time now that you cannot deport someone back to a country where they will face the threat of mistreatment or a trial where the evidence is likely to be based on mistreatment; the House of Lords surprisingly overturned Qatada’s successful court of appeal bid on that score, so it was always likely that his subsequent appeal to the European Court would succeed.

Distasteful as it is that we should have dedicated such efforts and expense in protecting the rights of a man who would presumably like to see the imposition of Sharia law, this is exactly what makes us democracies.

To steal wholesale from a comment posted by GuyStevenson on Eric Metcalfe’s piece at the Graun, quoting Aharon Barak, former head of the Supreme Court of Israel:

This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it, and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an individual’s liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day, they strengthen its spirit and its strength and allow it to overcome its difficulties.

It might save some time to remember this when we do have to put Qatada under that less strict regime. Except, of course, we won’t.


a longer version is here

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About the author
'Septicisle' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He mostly blogs, poorly, over at Septicisle.info on politics and general media mendacity.
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Reader comments


1. Anon E Mouse

What about the principal that sovereign elected governments have the right to decide who resides in their country even if that is against the wishes of an unelected bunch of foreigners?

Why does no one care about the victims of terrorism than this disgusting individual?

He entered this country illegally and needs to be sent home…

It’s Thomas More and the Devil again, isn’t it?

Why don’t you have a word with the Labour Party?

At PMQs, there was clearly an orchestrated ploy by Labour backbenchers to imply the coalition was ‘soft on terrorists’. As if the former government never had any trouble with the ECHR at all…

I also note that Labour backbenchers were implying that overseas development aid to India should is somehow relevant to the purchase of defence aircraft. I thought Ed was against corruption?

On Qatada, a little context is needed.

“Mr. Justice Collins, chairman of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission that rejected his appeal against detention in 2004, said that Abu Qatada was “heavily involved, indeed was at the centre in the United Kingdom of terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda. He is a truly dangerous individual …”.[7][8]

According to the indictment of the Madrid al-Qaeda cell, Abu Qatada was the spiritual leader of al-Qaeda in Europe, and the spiritual leader of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), and the Tunisian Combat Group.[9]

The Middle East Media Research Institute claimed that, in 1997, Abu Qatada called upon Muslims to kill the wives and children of Egyptian police and army officers.[10]

Abu Qatada is reported by the British press to have been a preacher or advisor to al-Qaeda terrorists Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid.[11][12]

When questioned in the UK in February 2001, Abu Qatada was in possession of £170,000 cash, including £805 in an envelope labelled “For the Mujahedin in Chechnya”.[11]

Nineteen audio cassettes of Abu Qatada’s sermons were found in the apartment of Mohamed Atta when it was searched after the September 11, 2001 attacks, which Atta led”.

It could go on and on of course. So he’s clearly a ‘preacher of hate’ and has broken numerous UK laws. He can’t be deported because of the ECHR – which LC still loves, but Labour is now opportunistically pretending to ignore exists.

On the issue of the law, its interesting LC is in favour of suspending, or working around existing laws when it comes to things like Stephen Hester’s contract. Yet they can’t seem to muster the same political determinaiton when it comes to Jew hating terrorists who constitute a threat to the nations national security.

It’s equally interesting the highly emotional attacks on people like Hester are much more strong worded and political than the mealy mouthed legal copouts we get for people like AQ.

“It’s been a well established point of law for a long time now that you cannot deport someone back to a country where they will face the threat of mistreatment or a trial..”

Actually, this simply isn’t true. Theoretically at least, the principle of sovereignty is still supreme, but as you say the UK (Labour) made additonal agreements with Europe on these matters.

The reason you are wrong is European Judges used to accept written agreements guarding against torture, signed by the receiving party in any deportation proceeding. What we are talking about now is actually quite new, and a perfect example of legal activism. You can argue they are right to be sceptical but my understanding is this is a new reading of the law. Yet something else conservatives warned you about. A victory for modern liberals I guess – some Jew hating terrorist walking the streets, under constant surveillance for the rest of his life, in a country he told us he hates. Yea, some victory.

Qatada isn’t a citizen of the United Kingdom. He should be sent back to his country-of-origin. Good riddance.

tory,

So he’s clearly a ‘preacher of hate’ and has broken numerous UK laws.

Which laws? Why hasn’t he been prosecuted?

Anon E Mouse,

What about the principal that sovereign elected governments have the right to decide who resides in their country even if that is against the wishes of an unelected bunch of foreigners?

What about the principle that nations ought to abide by the agreements they sign?

Why does no one care about the victims of terrorism than this disgusting individual?

Why do people insist on making such simplistic, stupid, unsubstantiated and false assertions?

tory,

The reason you are wrong is European Judges used to accept written agreements guarding against torture, signed by the receiving party in any deportation proceeding. What we are talking about now is actually quite new, and a perfect example of legal activism.

If you are talking about ‘diplomatic assurances’ or ‘memoranda of understanding’ (MOU), the European Court of Human Rights does take them into consideration. Our own SIAC “found that there was a high probability that Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher’s evidence incriminating the applicant would be admitted at the retrial and that this evidence would be of considerable, perhaps decisive, importance against him”. (para 281 OTHMAN (ABU QATADA) v. THE UNITED KINGDOM http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/56.html)

Have we received a diplomatic assurance or MOU that such evidence will not be admitted at the retrial?

(There are 105 mentions of MOU alone in the judgement linked to above.)

How should cases like this be dealt with? I suggest…

Should he be imprisoned? If he is suspected of breaking UK law, he should be given a fair trial, and a prison sentence may result from this. If the state won’t charge him with anything, they shouldn’t imprision him.

Should he be deported? If a court can be persuaded that the charges against him are illegal both here and in Jordan, that there is a case to answrer, and that he’ll get a fair trial, then yes.

Should he be allowed to stay in Britain? He isn’t a UK citizen so has no particular right to be here. If the govmt decides he’s an undesirable alien, it would be entirely reasonable for them to require him to leave, and if he doesn’t, or can’t find anywhere that will take him, to put him on a plane to any country that will have him (i.e. Jordan).

@3 tory: I also note that Labour backbenchers were implying that overseas development aid to India should is somehow relevant to the purchase of defence aircraft.

Aiod shouldn’t be dependent on defence contracts. Having said that, if India can afford $10 billion on fighter aircraft they can manage without £300 million in aid from Britain.

“Why does no one care about the victims of terrorism”

you’re right. I remember after the 7/7 bombings Tony Blair went on the TV and specifically said “I’m not bothered about those innocent people who died, its those suicide bombers I’m concerned about – they must have been awfully tired after staying up all night driving down from leeds.”

6. ukliberty

Whilst not a lawyer, from what has been said, I would have said there was at least a fair chance that an incitemnet to violence charge (at least) could be made.

However, because of the incompetence of the last Labour government by pandering to racism in its immigration and anti-terrorist legislation, anyy competent lawayer could easily make a case that the evidence and public opinion was so tainted that a fair trial here would be impossible. In other words, by going for short term “tough on terrorism” headline, the Labour government blew any chance of actually doing anything about it.

@4 tory: The reason you are wrong is European Judges used to accept written agreements guarding against torture, signed by the receiving party in any deportation proceeding.

Because governments prone to torturing people would never, ever, dream of lying, would they….?

Either you are naive to the point of stupidity, or you think the UK should connive at torture. Which is it?

“If you are talking about ‘diplomatic assurances’ or ‘memoranda of understanding’ (MOU), the European Court of Human Rights does take them into consideration.”

Judges used to sign these off as a simple matter of procedure. It seems they no longer do, which is why this is a new issue. The only European Judge to support the UK government was the British one. It is no coincidence it is his nation for whom AQ poses a national security risk.

On breaking laws:

Jordan sentenced Abu Qatada in absentia in 2000 to life imprisonment for his involvement in a plot to bomb tourists who would be in Jordan to attend the Millennium celebrations.

It isn’t ethical for Europeans to stand in the way of Jordanians prosecuting him.

14. Shatterface

The problem’s not the EHRC, its the Kafkaesque use of intelligence considered enough to accuse someone of criminal activity but which is considered too confidential to present in court.

And you can bet much of this intelligence was gathered by people already held in torture states.

I suspect most Labour MPs think similarly, naturally believing in due process and civil liberties. Of course, many will be too cowardly to express this, but what’s new about that in the Blatcherite era?

16. the a&e charge nurse

Well, if we can’t deport him perhaps we could at least find him a job?

I mean is it too much expect him to pay his way – from what I hear al qaeda have paid very little toward his long term benefits or exhorbitant legal fees (since arriving illegally in the UK all those years ago) – but then again why should they when their prospective targets can pick up the tab?

Does anyone know if Salman Rushdie is looking for a new minder, for example?

Considering how many anti-terrorism laws there have been in the last 50 years, and how many anti-terrorism laws Abu Qatada is being accused of breaking, there should not have been a problem of giving him his day in court and getting him put away for many years. But apparently that would have been being “soft on terrorism”. All this gradstanding, by our two main political parties and certain sections of the media, have left the UK in a difficult situation. All their frothing at the mouth cannot hide that.

A&E,

Well, if we can’t deport him perhaps we could at least find him a job?

So long as it’s a job that doesn’t involve him having to leave the house for more than two one hour periods a day, or it will be a breach of his bail conditions.

19. the a&e charge nurse

[18] so little prospect of ever making a useful contribution then – will his publicly funded computer and cell phone be monitored by MI5 ……… forever – or will he have to stir up jihad by carrier pigeon?

20. Anon E Mouse

@10 – Planeshift

Very good :-}

But it was all talk it appears. The game “didn’t change” as we were promised. Remember how we couldn’t deport the Afghan hijackers. Look at how useless the last bunch of control orders were.

By the way my dentist in Tredegar (James Hull & Associates) now employs two poles instead of the original Welsh dentists.

Seems of the three foreigners in Gwent I know two thirds of them. How weird is that?

21. Anon E Mouse

@7 – ukliberty

“What about the principle that nations ought to abide by the agreements they sign?”

We never signed up for these types of powers as you are well aware. If the only sanction that this unelected kangaroo court can do if we breech the rules they twisted is send a “strongly worded letter” then let’s do it. Spain did.

“Why does no one care about the victims of terrorism than this disgusting individual?

Why do people insist on making such simplistic, stupid, unsubstantiated and false assertions?”

What’s false about a man who wants a backward muslim caliphate to be enforced? Has been convicted of terrorist offences in eight countries. Entered our country illegally and supports the medieval practice of Sharia Law? You remember the one where homosexuals are flogged then hanged for something they are born with and woman are stoned to death for adultery and in some countries genitally mutilated.

He claims he supports everything I mentioned here. Why do you say he doesn’t – he was a friend of one of the 20 hijackers that murdered all those office workers in the Twin Towers. None of my friends would do that.

I think by his own admission he’s pretty disgusting – why do you think that behaviour is acceptable?

Thankfully your opinion where this horrible murderous individual is concerned is a minority one.

UK Liberty? Don’t make me laugh…

tory,

Judges used to sign these off as a simple matter of procedure. It seems they no longer do, which is why this is a new issue.

I don’t understand what you mean. Judges don’t “sign off” MOUs. Diplomats negotiate MOUs, governments agree on them, judges consider them.

The only European Judge to support the UK government was the British one. It is no coincidence it is his nation for whom AQ poses a national security risk.

It’s my understanding that a unanimous decision means all involved agreed it – as they did in this particular case (“the court unanimously”).

On breaking laws:

Jordan sentenced Abu Qatada in absentia in 2000 to life imprisonment for his involvement in a plot to bomb tourists who would be in Jordan to attend the Millennium celebrations.

You claimed he has “broken numerous UK laws”. Which UK laws?

It isn’t ethical for Europeans to stand in the way of Jordanians prosecuting him.

ISTM on balance it is ethical if the trial will be unfair. I have no problem with sending Qatada to Jordan if he will face a fair trial there.

A&E,

[18] so little prospect of ever making a useful contribution then

I don’t know, I receive lots of emails saying I can “mAKe $$$$$$$$ form HOME!!!!!??!?!?!”

Maybe he could check them out?

Anon E Mouse,

“Why does no one care about the victims of terrorism than this disgusting individual?”

“Why do people insist on making such simplistic, stupid, unsubstantiated and false assertions?”

What’s false about a man …

I didn’t disagree with your comment about Qatada but your assertion that no-one cares about the victims of terrorism.

why do you think that behaviour is acceptable?

I don’t. Try not to argue with what you imagine I think, but rather what I wrote.

The problem’s not the EHRC, its the Kafkaesque use of intelligence considered enough to accuse someone of criminal activity but which is considered too confidential to present in court.

And you can bet much of this intelligence was gathered by people already held in torture states.

This.

@OP

It doesn’t seem to matter that the danger from Qatada, such as it is, isn’t that he will personally launch an attack: it’s rather than he’s provided theological guidance and motivation to jihadists in the past, and given the opportunity possibly will again.

I seem to recall many rushing to Melanie Phillips defence when Anders Breivik gunned down an Island of school children, claiming that her rabble-rousing articles that he quoted in his ‘European declaration of independence’ had nowt to with it and she had no responsibility toward the killings. Clearly if we’re going to be even handed here then surely the same simply MUST apply to a Muslim rabble rouser too…

26. the a&e charge nurse

Some have argued that the case comes down to the degree of importance nations attach to their own sovereignty when it comes to matters of national security, and that the UK’s level of adherence to rulings made by judges in europe is not followed by other EU states.

It is claimed countries like France and Italy, for example, have disregarded external rulings, perhaps because EU judges consider issues from a different perspective.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t46CDNhFxA&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Of course, one problem with rights is that they can conflict – such as my right not to be blown up vs an extremists right to avoid court once that court has been deemed unacceptable by one authority even if other authorities disagree with that assessment.

27. the a&e charge nurse

[25] are you trying to equate Mel P’s shitty articles in the heil with OBL’s ‘right hand man in europe’?

As for principles, the principle of self-preservation is hugely attractive for most of us.

@27 Hey, if he just writes stuff and says stuff, can we really hold him responsible when some nutters take it to heart and use it as their reason to do bad things?

30. the a&e charge nurse

[29] “if he just writes stuff and says stuff, can we really hold him responsible when some nutters take it to heart and use it as their reason to do bad things” – that is a very interesting question – as far as I know AQ has never been accused of pulling the actual trigger, but then I guess people like him never have to so long as there are enough underlings to do the dirty work?

A&E,

It is claimed countries like France and Italy, for example, have disregarded external rulings, perhaps because EU judges consider issues from a different perspective.

It is claimed but never IME supported. But, so what? Is the suggestion that governments shouldn’t comply with adverse decisions?

It also misses the point that such issues may not have arisen before, so SIAC will say something like, “Well the ECtHR hasn’t ruled on this particular issue, but here are cases we think are similar, and here’s how we think the ECtHR might rule here.”

Of course, one problem with rights is that they can conflict – such as my right not to be blown up vs an extremists right to avoid court once that court has been deemed unacceptable by one authority even if other authorities disagree with that assessment.

I doubt Qatada is able to blow you up.

1. The Jordanian court is not “unacceptable”, it is the evidence that will be admitted that is unacceptable because it was tortured out of people, the court is free to exclude it;

2. There is a hierarchy of courts and on the issue of complaints based on Convention rights it is the European Court that is at the top, iow “authorities” don’t get to have a vote and outvote the European Court;

3. As I recall, SIAC, our domestic courts and the European Court all agree that the trial might be unfair to some degree, what they disagree on is whether there is a “real risk” of a “flagrant denial of justice” and the European Court agrees with our Court of Appeal that there is.

Christ, even SIAC says some evidence admitted at trial is likely to have been obtained via breaches of Article 3 (prohibition against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), and that it is “unfair for statements obtained by ill-treatment to be admitted”. Are we against unfair trials or not?

@25. Cylux: “I seem to recall many rushing to Melanie Phillips defence when Anders Breivik gunned down an Island of school children, claiming that her rabble-rousing articles that he quoted in his ‘European declaration of independence’ had nowt to with it and she had no responsibility toward the killings.”

Remember the old anecdote about advertising: statistics prove that only 10% of advertising works, but advertisers don’t know which 10%. We can apply something like it to any “message” that is broadcast. Does violence portrayed in video games and films encourage real life acts of violence or is it just a bit of fun? Do Qatada’s speeches (which I presume exist only on rantTube) incite violence or do they discourage potential followers?

The “message” probably delivers a mixture of both and we don’t know what the mixture comprises. We can be sure however that opponents of the “message” believe that it is 100% convincing (the opponent being especially immune to the corrosion that afflicts others). And that fellow travellers and moral relativists will explain why proclamations to kill Jews and gay people have been entirely misconstrued.

Tory: You’ve got the reasons for Qatada’s not being deported wrong. The ECHR fully accepted that the MoU with Jordan meant that he wouldn’t personally be mistreated; they ruled instead, as did the court of appeal before the House of Lords overturned it, that he wouldn’t face a fair trial as the evidence against him was the product of torture. The ECHR based its ruling partly on the fact that new evidence had emerged which suggested even more forcefully that the evidence against him came from torture, and which was not available when the House of Lords decided he could be deported.

Cylux: I find it dubious that he’ll be able to fart under the 22-hour curfew without someone noticing and writing it down. At best he might be able to smuggle messages out, even if we put the onus on those who then act on what he might advise.

Incidentally, I am fascinated by the continuing claims that there are all these other countries that also want to try him, without there being any sourcing to back it up. Both the references for his being wanted in Algeria and also in Jordan on his Wiki page are dead. It’s especially intriguing how it seems that France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States can find evidence to try him and yet we apparently can’t.

I don’t think anyone is disputing that Qatada is an odious individual who is dangerous enough to deserve to be behind bars. The issue is whether, regardless of what someone is accused of, they should face “evidence” which has almost certainly been obtained through torture. I don’t. We should instead of tried him here in the first place. It seems though that we just wanted rid of him altogether, which ironically is why he keeps coming back to haunt us.

@26. the a&e charge nurse: “It is claimed countries like France and Italy, for example, have disregarded external rulings, perhaps because EU judges consider issues from a different perspective.”

Some people wind down the window of their cars and dump rubbish into the street. Should I should copy them, or should I apply my own standards of behaviour? I presume that you too would follow the latter course of conduct.

Similarly, we could follow the alleged standards of other countries by lowering our own. But should the precedent for human rights law in the UK be determined by the cost and inconvenience of accommodating a scum bag (my opinion, not a legal definition)?

Qatada has lived in the UK for many years and is subject to effective house arrest. I would prefer not to pay for the surveillance team and the monitoring equipment; I would prefer Qatada to live somewhere else; but I am not prepared to lower my standards by deporting him and his family to a country that *might* torture him.

35. the a&e charge nurse

[31] “Are we against unfair trials or not?” – depends what you mean by fair (given that the treatment of AQ involves at least three separate judicial systems).

Our most experienced judges believe it is safe (and fair) to deport him.

@33. septicisle: “Incidentally, I am fascinated by the continuing claims that there are all these other countries that also want to try him, without there being any sourcing to back it up.”

I dunno, Septic. Police forces operate in different ways at different times; one week, “Most Wanted” posters are fashionable and on the next a softly, softly approach is used. How could UK judges determine whether any country wishes to prosecute Qatada unless he or an associated organisation or community is explicitly identified? (We can see why it is wrong to deport LGBT people, for example, to countries where persecution is legally defined.)

37. the a&e charge nurse

[34] “I am not prepared to lower my standards by deporting him and his family to a country that *might* torture him” – it’s impossible to guarantee proper treatment in any country.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/birmingham-six-35-years-on-from-injustice-1826180.html

So what sanctions are available to the ECHR if the British government just ignored it and deported him anyone? They could be outraged after the fact but he would be gone anyway. If I defy a UK court they could have me arrested and find me in contempt of court. Is the ECHR going to arrest the British government? If a court ultimately has no power of sanction against those whom they claim jurisdiction over, they are just a pretendy court of hot air.

39. the a&e charge nurse

The problem, as I see it, is to do with a conflict of human rights, namely the right of people not to be harmed by extremists and the right of a suspect to a fair hearing. Since rights may be contradictory it may be impossible to resolve both to an ideal standard.

Has AQ received legal treatment in the UK that is good enough – I think he has, and lets not forget the reasons why he has attracted so much international attention.

The regime in Jordan has changed since the first tainted trial and I understand assurances have been given.

@37. the a&e charge nurse: “it’s impossible to guarantee proper treatment in any country.”

True, which is why I emphasised *might*. I wrongly failed to note that unfair trial is one of the options that faces Qatada if he is deported.

*might* is a modal form that suggests conditionality and probability.

If Qatada was prosecuted for something in a UK court, it is certain that he would receive UK justice, to be a participant in a long cycle of court cases. If Qatada was deported, his case *might* receive similar scrutiny in courts in another country.

A&E,

[31] “Are we against unfair trials or not?” – depends what you mean by fair (given that the treatment of AQ involves at least three separate judicial systems).

Sorry but this looks like you are dodging the question. I am talking about the trial he faces in Jordan. Evidence will be admitted at trial that was obtained by torturing two witnesses. Can such evidence be trusted?

Our most experienced judges believe it is safe (and fair) to deport him.

No, the extent of the claim is that he would not face “a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice” – this is not equivalent to saying there is no risk at all. And if we’re going to play Top Trumps, I’ll play the European Court is higher up than our lot, and they heard evidence additional to that heard by our lot.

The regime in Jordan has changed since the first tainted trial and I understand assurances have been given.

The assurances do not say “we won’t use evidence obtained via torture against Qatada” (AFAIK, anyway).

42. Norther Worker

Conscensus at last!

@38. Richard W: “So what sanctions are available to the ECHR if the British government just ignored it and deported him anyone?”

Deference to the ECHR is a treaty choice. The UK signed up to a human rights agreement that said decisions made by the ECHR trump national laws.

So there are three choices:
1. Ignore ECHR decisions and pretend to be participants in a treaty. That is essentially a statement that the UK is a dishonest treaty partner.
2. Withdraw from the treaty.
3. Accept the treaty; argue about the terms or about implementation of specific measures.

@39. the a&e charge nurse: “The regime in Jordan has changed since the first tainted trial and I understand assurances have been given.”

Jordan is a monarchical democracy, so I would never call it a regime. As an ideal of monarchical democracy, it is not what I would offer to my hypothetical children.

But you raise a fair point. Qatada should be reviewed for deportation because Jordan has changed. Let the courts decide afresh whether Qatada *might* be treated fairly in Jordan.

45. the a&e charge nurse

[41] “this is not equivalent to saying there is no risk at all” – risk to who, us or him?

Richard W: It’s an interesting question, as the ECHR’s only real powers should it find against a state are to impose damages and award legal costs. Presumably, if the government were to deport Qatada his wife could then claim damages, although someone with more legal knowledge than me would need to clarify that. In practice it’s up to the Council of Europe to cajole and supervise specific changes in domestic law, but that obviously doesn’t apply in cases like this.

a&e: There might have been some reforms in Jordan, but these don’t cover the fact that the evidence against him was the product of torture previously. The difficulties in reaching a deal with Jordan that such evidence won’t be used is that firstly it means the country admitting that it has in the past used torture, and secondly that it does seem the main evidence is from these two men who claim they were tortured. Take that out and there isn’t much to convict him with.

A&E,

[41] “this is not equivalent to saying there is no risk at all” – risk to who, us or him?

If you feel at risk of being harmed by Qatada may I respectfully suggest you ‘get a grip’?

I’m certain you face incomparably higher risks every day in A&E.

43. Charlieman

” Deference to the ECHR is a treaty choice. The UK signed up to a human rights agreement that said decisions made by the ECHR trump national laws.

So there are three choices:
1. Ignore ECHR decisions and pretend to be participants in a treaty. That is essentially a statement that the UK is a dishonest treaty partner.
2. Withdraw from the treaty.
3. Accept the treaty; argue about the terms or about implementation of specific measures. ”

We all sign up to a form of treaty obligation to obey the law by just being a citizen. However, everyone philosophically has the right to ignore or disobey the law if they feel the law in question is unjust or offends their conscience. They then suffer the consequences of disobeying the law and following their conscience would be no defence. So, the British government could politically argue that they are ethically following their conscience by ignoring the ECHR. The risks to 62 million is greater than the risks to one person. The British government following their conscience would then have to suffer the consequences of disobeying the ECHR, which are in fact zero.

If we say that the government can never in any circumstances defy a court ruling. How could a private citizen ever argue an ethical case for disobeying the prevailing law? There would be no legitimate ethical case ever. People who argue that their conscience tells them that a law is unjust, therefore, they should disobey that law. Do not tend to at the same time reject all other laws. Therefore, it would not be absurd on a matter of conscience for the government to ignore this particular ruling and also retain the treaty.

Richard W,

The risks to 62 million is greater than the risks to one person.

What is the risk posed by Qatada to 62m people? Will he somehow gain access to nuclear weapon launch codes during the hour he is allowed out of his home?

If we say that the government can never in any circumstances defy a court ruling. How could a private citizen ever argue an ethical case for disobeying the prevailing law? There would be no legitimate ethical case ever. People who argue that their conscience tells them that a law is unjust, therefore, they should disobey that law. Do not tend to at the same time reject all other laws. Therefore, it would not be absurd on a matter of conscience for the government to ignore this particular ruling and also retain the treaty.

A citizen choosing to break the law on ethical grounds must still face the consequences.

And what message does it send when a government ignores adverse rulings?

An alternative approach in Qatada’s case is for the UK to seek an assurance from Jordan that evidence obtained via torture will not be admitted at trial. Assuming the European Court is persuaded, the UK will be free to lawfully deport Qatada to Jordan. I suggest we try that before destroying principles fundamental to our democracy (the rule of law).

@48. Richard W: “We all sign up to a form of treaty obligation to obey the law by just being a citizen. However, everyone philosophically has the right to ignore or disobey the law if they feel the law in question is unjust or offends their conscience.”

Yes, that is a fine argument, possibly a fourth argument about deference to ECHR. Or perhaps a more declamatory version of my point three: “Accept the treaty; argue about the terms or about implementation of specific measures.”

Richard W’s argument is a sound classical liberal one, not something to be brushed aside.

@49. ukliberty: “An alternative approach in Qatada’s case is for the UK to seek an assurance from Jordan that evidence obtained via torture will not be admitted at trial.”

Yes, I suggested that earlier (cough, splutter) in subtle words.

“Assuming the European Court is persuaded, the UK will be free to lawfully deport Qatada to Jordan.”

Not sure. Qatadar *might* be deported *somewhere*. Jordan may make an argument that they are a civilised country but who has extradition treaties with Jordan?

52. Flowerpower

@ scepticisle

..unconcerned as we were then of the phantom of exploding Muslims.

Phantom (definition: A ghost….A figment of the imagination…Something apparently seen, heard, or sensed, but having no physical reality.

So suicide bombers don’t exist?

The last time some idiot lefty (Adam Curtis) started peddling that line of nonsense, Muslims soon start exploding on the London Underground.

Get real.

Charlieman,

Richard W’s argument is a sound classical liberal one, not something to be brushed aside.

I don’t recall reading from classical liberals that governments (i.e. lawmakers) should disregard their laws and agreements on supposedly ethical grounds, as opposed to changing the laws or agreements, but I am not particularly well read.

Yes, that is a fine argument, possibly a fourth argument about deference to ECHR. Or perhaps a more declamatory version of my point three: “Accept the treaty; argue about the terms or about implementation of specific measures.”

It is not just the ECHR; Article 15 of the UN Convention Against Torture for instance says, “Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.”

“Assuming the European Court is persuaded, the UK will be free to lawfully deport Qatada to Jordan.”

Not sure. Qatadar *might* be deported *somewhere*. Jordan may make an argument that they are a civilised country but who has extradition treaties with Jordan?

Do you mean if we deport to Jordan they might move Qatada on somewhere else? I doubt it, they’re accusing him of involvement in two bomb plots; also the issue was raised and discounted, e.g. “It was also unlikely that the United States Government would seek the extradition of the applicant from Jordan when it had not sought his extradition from the United Kingdom and there would be political difficulties for Jordan to accede to such a request.” http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/56.html

The only issue stopping the deportation is that of the fair trial.

I forgot to mention before that the UK can also appeal to the Grand Chamber.

A&E,

A&E,It is claimed countries like France and Italy, for example, have disregarded external rulings, perhaps because EU judges consider issues from a different perspective.

It is claimed but never IME supported. But, so what? Is the suggestion that governments shouldn’t comply with adverse decisions?

Camilla Cavendish in today’s Times actually cites some cases where France and Italy ignored decisions and/or procedure.

“This makes the threat he poses under a 22 hour curfew, accompanied by surveillance, a tag and a ban on anyone visiting him who doesn’t receive Home Office approval almost negligible.”

Just because he can’t go anywhere, talk to anyone or do anything much without us knowing about it doesn’t make him not dangerous. Moreover, neither does it make the act of us trying to hold him or restrict his movements any less risky in itself.

Qatada has apparently been careful never to personally violate UK law while he’s been here; I do find that a bit of a stretch, given his long record in other countries, but I’m accepting of the fact that he’s careful enough in covering his tracks and exercising a certain level of discretion regarding his affairs that the evidence isn’t strong enough or persuasive enough to secure a conviction under British law for anything relating to his activities here during his stay.

Addmittedly, the likelihood is, were Special Branch and SIS able to dedicate a reasonable share of manpower and resources to looking again at his case, they could probably come up with something to justify keeping him in custody on some fresh charges, but you’d essentially be trying to him up for something just to get out of being forced to bail him, it would be tricky in terms of getting the charges to stick, as he quite rightly could protest, citing harassment by the authorities.

So charging him with fresh crimes under British law is a non-stater, as its both undesirable and unlikely to succeed. The court has ruled out sending him back to Jordan, no other country is willing to take him and hanging onto him is a liability.

That’s the central dilemma in this case, as I see it; having him here is a liability to the government and by extension to the British public because we’re managed to end up somehow stuck with the responsibility of dealing with him by virtue of his years of careful and dextrous inveigling himself to be stuck fasf within the fabric or various different legal loopholes to avoid having to serve his outstanding punishment back in Jordan.

The best example I can relate it to from history was the urgent problem Churchill had presented to him by the Duke of Windsor and Wallace at the beginning if the war, especially after the Fall of France; although Edward had abdicated, he was still the King’s elder brother and a commissioned army officer in the BEF living in Northern France. But the Duke was also oppinionated, headstrong, loathed Churchill and was an eager, quite vocal admirer of Nazism. Wallace even, it was rumoured had been carrying on an affair with Von Ribbentrop whenever he visited London before the war and born her and the Duke continued to write to Von Riddetropp and other high ranking German Nazi figures throughout 1940, showering with praise and admiration for the Furher’s achievements and offering up their thoughts as to how the Brtitish could be made to give up the fight.

I see the Quatada issue in similar terms at this stage – holding him in the country or trying to restrict or limit his activities is seriously problematic, as well as skirting very close to just being flat-out illegal. From his associations and the influential relationships he has with individuals and groups opposed to UK Governement policy, many of whom will hang on his every word, harm and damage caused by having him around at large in the country poses a risk to public safety and public order of a scale far out of proportion with what one person on their own might normally be expected to have. You’re therefore obliged to handle him in such a way that you isolate him from his potential co-conspirators as much as possible without further antagonising the situation whilst watching him like a hawk and taking steps to limit the harm he can cause if he decides that he’s had enough with being pushed around.

Such was the case with Wallace and the Duke; as I mentioned, he was living in France at the start of the war, and though he made no public statements (and hadn’t, since abdicating the throne to his brother 4 years before), he was still corresponding in letters with friends back home and in Berlin, slating Churchill and the British people, predicting British defeat and praising German figures and expressing his sympathy with National Socialist ideas. Churchill knew the Duke and his leanings and expected him to do something like this; already he was giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime, but when he began speculating and suggesting ways in which Britain might be forced into capitulation (the Duke suggested brutal civilian slaughter from the air would force a speedy defeat), for anyone else this was a clear case of flat-out treason.

For a former King and the current King’s elder brother, the situation was all the more complicated; the former King surely can be considered to be a traitor to the crown he himself gave up vouluntarily just a year or two before, but it’s totally unprecedented; that he was a traitor to the British people and endangering both the lives of the British public at large and troops engaged in the field was much more clear.

I suspect that Churchill had someone intercepting the Duke’s mail, but even if he didn’t know exactly what the Duke was writing to Berlin, he knew that he posed a risk and could not be relied upon. And by this stage, with the the Germans advancing through northern France, he was far more concerned by the prospect of the Duke and Wallace falling into German hands or allowing themselves to be taken; even if they didn’t begin openly condemning the British resistance and Churchill’s Government’s policy of prosecuting the war, the propaganda blow would be devestating and they would likely be taken straight back to the Berghoff and kept as honoured guests by Hitler and held in reserve, ready to be reinstalled as King and Queen of a pro-Nazi British government once Britain was forced to concede defeat.

Like Qatada, the dilemma with the Duke was that Churchill couldn’t detain him and keep him locked up and he couldn’t effectively silence him and stop him working against British interests in the war effort either; the only leverage Churchill had with the Duke was that he was still a commissioned officer in the army; irrespective of the Duke’s intentions, for the time being, he was still duty bound to follow orders, which Churchill was able to use to order him further and further away from the advancing German lines, on pain of immediate court martial , which was threatened more than once, if I recall.

Not wanting him in Britain causing trouble and not wanting him either taken or stuck living in Vichy France, Churchill first ordered him to head for neutral Portugal, where he was far from the front and largely isolated from his friends where he could cause the mimimum amount of damange. Very quickly, the Germans located him there and his old friend Von Ribbentrop took steps to approach him in exile via intermediaiaries and conduct a dialogue with the increasingly bitter ex-King and making all sorts of promises.

Churchill of course found out, sent the Royal Yacht immediately to Lisbon to collect him and Wallace, along with orders appointing him as Governer of the Bharmas for the duration of the rest of the war, along with another ultimatum and threat of court martial if he refused to comply immediately with the order. It worked, but only just, and only because of Churchill’s careful handling of the Duke.

My take on the Abu Qatada situation as it stands currently is this:- he has been convicted in absentia in Jordan for serious terrorism-related offences he committed in that country. The nature of of the crimes is such that if he were convicted of them here, he would be locked up for years, no question. But since he has committed no crimes here, we can’t hold him or charge him. The ECHR has ruled that we can’t send him back to Jordan because there is reason to suspect he might not receive a fair trial (this part confuses me slightly, as he’s already *had* his trial and failed to return for it, but I have heard some talk of a mistrial, which I am unclear as to why it’s necessary if he already has a lengthy sentence waiting for him and the Jordanians are satisfied his conviction is sound, by their standards. It’s clearly not satisfactory to the EHCR, although how that is their jurisdiction or knowledge to make that determination and rulen accordingly on it is a bit beyond me.).

In the meantime, we are obliged to keep him and pay for his keep. There is however also a downside to returning him to Jordan, in as much we give up any further opportunity to use him as an intelligence asset for counter terrorism efforts in the future; from a purely practical view, it’s far better from a British domestic perspective to have him where we can see him, and if we send him back, we lose that.

He is exploiting us, in fact he’s exploiting everyone, hiding behind a perceived right that he would not enjoy his own country and would not exist if the crimes he has been accused and convicted of were committed either here or in any other EU member state; up until this point, the trade-off for that has been that we get to exploit him back in terms of information and trading on his existing knowledge and contacts, but the ECHR ruling has buggered that up even further by saying that we can’t even hold him on the Jordanian charges.

What’s obviously desirable here is that if we can’t return him to Jordan is if he serves out his Jordanian sentence in Belmarsh or somewhere and we just invoice the Jordanian government for the cost of imprisoning him, whilst continuing to debrief him. If the court says we can’t do that and we can’t send him back, then it’s unclear what measures they actually expect us to be able to exercise in this case.

But in terms of treaty obligations, yes we have obligations to abide by the ruling of the court; but we surely also have treaty obligations to the Jordanian Governement to return fugitives from their justice system who have escaped or fled custody, as he has. Don’t we also have an obligation to honour our treaty with them?

Camilla Cavendish in today’s Times actually cites some cases where France and Italy ignored decisions and/or procedure.

She writes,

It is fairly well known that France has deported suspected terrorists to Algeria in defiance of the convention. It is less well known that Italy has done so too. Italy deported Sami Ben Khemais Essid to his home country of Tunisia in June 2008, snubbing a Strasbourg ruling. It deported Mourad Trabelsi to Tunisia in December 2008, prompting Strasbourg to order the Italian government to pay €21,000 in damages and compensation.

In 2009 it was condemned for deporting another Tunisian, Ali Toumi, in a letter from the Council Of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly Legal Affairs Committee that accused Italy of “blatantly disregarding” the court. The response of the Italian Interior Minister to this letter is interesting: “We respect the European Court’s decisions, and I stress decisions,” he said. “However, when I receive a fax from an official that says that it is necessary to suspend the expulsion while awaiting the Court’s decision, I prefer to continue and expel an alleged terrorist.”

From a purely domestic view, here’s how the issue down from a civil liberties viewpoint:- the British Government extends British citizens certain civil rights and protections under the law. But he isn’t a British citizen, so he doesn’t have those. Moreover, he isn’t even an EU citizen.

He has certain rights as a Jordanian citizen, but most of those don’t extend to anything he does whilst living here, and ma few more of them were nullified or suspended when he was convicted and evaded the ruling of the Jordanian Court.

The only sizeable obligation we have in regards to his case under the 1955 treaty is to not send him back if sending him back will place him in danger of physical harm and not detain him here if he hasn’t broken UK law.

Now, getting a paper cut whilst being booked for drunken disorderly counts as physical harm in custody; it’s very easy to claim that “there is reason to believe” that someone might come to harm if they are deported to stand trial in another country, but it seems to me that isn’t really good enough as a reason to brush off a serious conviction in another jurisdiction; surely the burden of proof must err on the side of assuming he will be treated no better or worse than any other prisoner, rather than speculating that he may come to serious, deliberate harm without compelling evidence that that’s likely ?

It’s a pretty patronising position to take to every other court system outside of ECHR jurisdiction to assume that just because there is no oversight on their part, they’re likely to mistreat their own prisoners.

Spike1138,

The ECHR has ruled that we can’t send him back to Jordan because there is reason to suspect he might not receive a fair trial (this part confuses me slightly, as he’s already *had* his trial and failed to return for it, but I have heard some talk of a mistrial, which I am unclear as to why it’s necessary if he already has a lengthy sentence waiting for him and the Jordanians are satisfied his conviction is sound, by their standards. It’s clearly not satisfactory to the EHCR, although how that is their jurisdiction or knowledge to make that determination and rulen accordingly on it is a bit beyond me.).

That isn’t what the decision is about: “It was common ground before SIAC that the applicant’s previous convictions [in absentia] would be set aside and he would face retrial before the State Security Court on the same charges.”

The decision is about the fairness of the retrial that Qatada will face on his return: “the Court unanimously… Holds that the applicant’s deportation to Jordan would be in violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of the real risk of the admission of evidence at the applicant’s retrial of obtained by torture of third persons.”

http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/56.html

But in terms of treaty obligations, yes we have obligations to abide by the ruling of the court; but we surely also have treaty obligations to the Jordanian Governement to return fugitives from their justice system who have escaped or fled custody, as he has. Don’t we also have an obligation to honour our treaty with them?

If there is such an obligation – I do not know if there is – of course there is a conflict with his Convention rights. But would such an obligation outweigh the applicant’s right to a fair trial? I don’t think it should.

@55

“Camilla Cavendish in today’s Times actually cites some cases where France and Italy ignored decisions and/or procedure.”

Whilst it’s tempting to remark on how if any EU state was going to ignore a directive of the European Court and decide it didn’t apply to them, it was bound to be the Italians, I will refrain from doing so.

I think this touches on a key problem with European affairs which is a generally perception on the part of the British public that we somehow get screwed over in the deal by participating in European institutions by virtue of the fact that we’re somehow seen to be the only ones who are playing by the rules.

Raising the issue is heresy on the left, as it seems to smack of bigotted nationalism, but that doesn’t address reality that we don’t have an answer to it, hence we loose.

Thatcher always used to attack the Community, particularly during negotiations on the rebate by referring to “the British people’s deep and sincere traditional sense of fair play”, implying that the others were all on the fiddle or in some sense conducting themselves dishonestly to enrich their own national interests.

That the European Project was inherently conceived to further both national self-interest as well being for the benefit of the whole is obvious and manifest; Pompidou allegedly began his negotiations with Heath stating “I am a French peasant – my only goal is in protecting the interests of the French peasants”. That’s understood from the get-go and part of the deal, we get it.

That we entered Europe and continue to participate within it in large part for what we as a country can get out of it is no sin, nor is the behaviour of other member states a sin on their part.

Like the MPs expenses row, the bureaucratic nature of European Affairs makes it tempting and easy, and would could argue wise to always ask for as many benefits from the communal pot as we are entitled to claim for, then try for a bit more, esspecially when it seems like everybody else is doing it.

I would argue that from a national point of view, the perception has rarely pushed to get back all that it is entitled to by participating in the various institutions and thus our periodic assertiveness on issues like this leaves us a bit enfeebled and not taken seriously; we keep Europe at arms length (especially recently), so when decisions like this go against us, the result is more impactful, again because we feel obliged to honour our commitments to the letter in order to keep the peace.

Countries more actively involved in Europe and more inclined to play fast and loose and rough and tumble with the central bureaucracy are much less constrained by following the letter of the law and realise the consequences will be minimal – they ignore an ECHR ruling, the decision they feel was the right one for Italy’s natural interest, they do so acknowledging that they will probably pay a price for it somewhere along the line, but it will be minimal and put it down to swings and roundabouts.

It should be noted that as far as we can tell, the ECHR has no power or means to enforce their decision in Britain, other than us just choosing to comply with it. We have can reply that we respectfully disagree and decline.

By contrast, take Missisipi refusing to enforce the ruling of the US Supreme Court prohibiting them from denying James Meredith’s civil rights by allowing him to register at their university and ensure his safety. The Governor failed to act to protect Meredith and maintain law and order, so Kennedy federalised the Missisipi National Guard, deployed federal officers of the United States Border Guard, as well as sending in 500 US Marshalls to restore law and order, break up the rioting and escort Meredith safely onto the campus to register and enforce the order of the Supreme Court.

I don’t see that happening here if we stick him on a plane to Amman.

Spike1138,

From a purely domestic view, here’s how the issue down from a civil liberties viewpoint:- the British Government extends British citizens certain civil rights and protections under the law. But he isn’t a British citizen, so he doesn’t have those. Moreover, he isn’t even an EU citizen.

Do you mean this literally, he legally speaking doesn’t have such rights, or is it your opinion that he shouldn’t have such rights?

[words about mistreatment] It’s a pretty patronising position to take to every other court system outside of ECHR jurisdiction to assume that just because there is no oversight on their part, they’re likely to mistreat their own prisoners.

I don’t understand why you’re talking about something that isn’t an issue – the Court did not say Qatada will be mistreated, indeed they unanimously held “that the applicant’s deportation to Jordan would not be in violation of Article 3 of the Convention”, agreeing with the UK.

it seems to me that isn’t really good enough as a reason to brush off a serious conviction in another jurisdiction

The Court didn’t “brush off a serious conviction”, they didn’t make a value-judgement about it – the decision is about whether he will get a fair retrial.

http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/56.html

@57

“If there is such an obligation – I do not know if there is – of course there is a conflict with his Convention rights. But would such an obligation outweigh the applicant’s right to a fair trial? I don’t think it should.”

That’s a right that all British and EU Citizens enjoy from birth. But he isn’t an EU citizen.

“Fair” only means “fair” in the Western understanding of jurisprudence; he’s got his own set of rights as a Jordanian citizen. Jordanian law has it’s own rules about what constitutes a fair trial and that might differ in the detail or it might differ a lot. Since each individual case is tried differently and the assessment of “fairness” can only be made subjectively in the context of normal practice under Jordanian law and viewed from afar, any speculation as to the kind of treatment he may or may not expect to receive under Jordanian justice is anecdotal guesswork at best; there’s nothing to suggest that his case would be tried again in any different or exceptional way that would set him apart from any other Jordanian citizen brought to trial.

The allegation is made that evidence given under torture would be used to convict him and that that’s standard practice under the Jordanian legal system. Well, if you’re saying that, you’re really in fact saying that it’s not the trial (that hasn’t occurred yet) that you *expect* to be conducted unfairly, it’s that you believe that the entire Jordanian justice system is manifestly unfair and that we have contempt for it.

For instance, under the terms of the ECHR, member states do not extradite fugitive convicts or suspects back to jurisdictions where they can expect to face the death penalty….

Most of the United States retain and apply the death penalty for certain crimes, including capital murder. We do not. We take the view that it’s inhumane, faulty and prone to fatal and therefore irreversible miscarriages of justice. We take the view that it’s unfair and disproportionate. The American justice system takes the view that it’s absolutely fair.

We beg to differ. And so if Ted Bundy had escaped from jail before his execution and fled to Britain (James Earl Ray-style), we would be obliged to not only not return him, but grant him asylum in the basis of his sentence and let him wander the country freely, indulging his various appetites.

The same applies here – we don’t admit torture confessions into testimony. Jordan does. That’s considered to be “fair” – absurdly, in fact, when you pursue this to it’s logical conclusion, if his trial *didn’t* include torture testimony, his new trial therefore would be perversely *unfair*, since he was being given special treatment and being tried in a way proceedurally different to any other Jordanian citizen, put on trial *without* British or ECHR observers peering over their shoulders to ensure that they were enforcing their own laws to our satisfaction.

No one can produce the proof that he would be treated any differently to any other suspect if he were sent back. You can’t make the assertion that he would be tried in an unfair way by Jordanian (rather than Western) standards of justice. No-one can do that because you can’t know he will be treated unfairly when he is sent back until you *actually* send him back. It’s a non-argument in that sense.

@59

“Do you mean this literally, he legally speaking doesn’t have such rights, or is it your opinion that he shouldn’t have such rights?”

I mean that literally – British citizens have protection under the law, EU citizens have rights and enjoy protection as European citizens, as well as rights as citizens of the various member states, but he isn’t either of those.

He’s subject to British and European law while he’s here, but he’s not protected by it. Our obligation to honour his human rights does not extend beyond the requirement that we do not force him to be placed in harm’s way, but it doesn’t extend to protecting his civil rights, here or anywhere else.

He doesn’t have any civil rights. Because he isn’t a citizen. And he isn’t afforded any protections under British law, either.

From a strictly clinical point of view therefore, provided we don’t violate his human rights, or allow his human rights to be violated by any other party while he’s here, we can do pretty much anything we want, either with him or to him. Like not allowing him to have a phone or a computer and remain under curfew, for instance.

Spike1138,

I don’t see that [enforcement of the law] happening here if we stick him on a plane to Amman.

What a wonderful argument: “we should break the law if we can get away with it.”

Such a principle cannot possibly have any adverse consequences, I’m sure..

Spike1138 @61, may I suggest you immediately contact the government’s lawyers in the first instance, because I read the various decisions and I can’t see that they raised that argument. They might think “it was so obvious I missed it. Doh!”

Or maybe it has something to do with Article 1 of the Convention: “The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.”

What do you think?

Spike1138 @60, what an odd argument, particularly the bit about Ted Bundy being free to rape and murder people in the UK.

As for the rest of it, have you read the decision?

http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/56.html

No one can produce the proof that he would be treated any differently to any other suspect if he were sent back. You can’t make the assertion that he would be tried in an unfair way by Jordanian (rather than Western) standards of justice. No-one can do that because you can’t know he will be treated unfairly when he is sent back until you *actually* send him back. It’s a non-argument in that sense.

The argument that matters is whether “the applicant’s deportation to Jordan would be in violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of the real risk of the admission of evidence at the applicant’s retrial of obtained by torture of third persons.”

@ Spike1138

ukliberty is correct; your take on it, apart from being morally pretty repugnant, is also incorrect as a matter of fact and law. I realise that for many of the right wing wing nuts who like to post here this may in fact amount to a positive recommendation, but civilized societies should be and are judged by how they treat people whose views they disagree with, much as you can often tell a lot about a country by looking at its prison system.

If Abu Qatada has committed a crime he can be prosecuted for here, then he should be charged with it and tried. However repulsive his views, he should not be handed over to the Jordanians unless the guarantees about his treatment and the fairness of his trial are sufficient.

Treating justice and due process as some pick and mix buffet is the reason we eneded up with Guantanamo, torturing prisoners and with a situation where people can be locked up for years having not been found guilty of any crime. Feel free to participate in all the Blimpish huffing and puffing about this case, but don’t pretend that riding roughshod over fundamental freedoms is either risk free, or morally defensible.

Flowerpower: You know full well I wasn’t suggesting the threat from jihadists was a phantom. Get real yourself.

Spike: I think for the most part ukliberty has responded to your points in the same way as I would. Let’s be clear about this: I wouldn’t shed any tears whatsoever if Qatada was put on a plane tomorrow and taken back to Jordan, and moreover the real reason why this hasn’t happened isn’t just because we’re more attached to rule of law here, it’s because ignoring the ECHR when we had such a fundamental role in setting it up in the first place would be seen as far more serious than the likes of Italy doing so. I do though think it’s equally patronising to suggest that the ECHR doesn’t consider every country on their merits: as stated above, they accepted Jordan wouldn’t mistreat Qatada based on the memorandum of understanding between us and the country. They decided on the basis, both of independent evidence from human rights organisations and observers, and specifically on the two men whose evidence was vital to Qatada’s conviction that it was highly likely the evidence against him came from torture.

My main worry is that as always, this leads us down the road towards making similar assumptions again the next time something like this happens. Once we’ve done it, it becomes easier to decide we should ignore such rulings again.

@64

“what an odd argument, particularly the bit about Ted Bundy being free to rape and murder people in the UK.”

I don’t see why, we’re engaging in a rhetorical exploration of the issues here and it’s a legitimate rhetorical device to extrapolate a given premise to it’s ultimate logical (and often ludicrous) conclusion and test it under those conditions to see if it holds up to careful scrutiny or just produces an absurd outcome.

I’m not suggesting that the scenario I was describing or anything like it *will* happen, or even *could* happen or suggesting in any way that I’m genuinely concerned that it *might* happen. All I’m suggesting is that if it *did* happen and we adopted the same stance and frame of mind as we currently are, does it produce a consistent outcome or does it produce an absurd outcome.

The premise at issue here is that we do not extradict people to stand trial to place where there is a credible risk that they will made to answer evidence collected under torture, as we are failing in our duty to protect his human rights.

That’s a perfectly reasonable premise.

We also do not extradict people to jurisdictions where will be liable to face the death penalty on their return. That’s equally a failure in protecting that person’s human rights.

That’s equally reasonable. But when that policy was put in place, I’m fairly confident that the people who wrote it had at the back of their minds people fleeing from political persecution and sectarian violence in their own countries, not people who were trying to evade punishment for actual manifest attrocities rather than the imagined or manufactured slights against their enemies.

In 1955, they were drafting laws to protect the Jews, not to protect Mengelé or Himmler; what they probably didn’t properly consider fully was that the same law written to protect the Jews also protected Mengelé… Which is probably the reasons why Mossad in it’s early decades so vigourously hunted down ex-Nazis all over the globe to the extent that they went around kidnapping them and smuggling them out of the country, so desperate were they to make those people stand trial and answer for their crimes in an Israeli court. They just didn’t trust the countries they tracked the ex-Nazis down in to hand them over or not let them escape.

So, hypothetical situation; a convicted American serial killer (somehow) breaks out of Death Row, makes his way to the UK and sets up home in the middle of Kettering. He hasn’t broken any UK laws, but we have an extradition treaty with the US, which obliges us to arrest him and send him back, where he has a death sentence waiting for him. But we also have a treaty with Europe that forbids us to send him back to suffer execution.

Where does the rule of law come down on that one? Which treaty takes precedence? And what about the responsibility Ministers in the government have to act in accordance with the public interest?

All three are deciding factors in that instance, the obligation to return the fugitive, the fugitive criminal’s human rights and the public interest.

To suggest any government minister in that extreme circumstance would allow that person to walk free is absurd. They just wouldn’t do it. They would act (one would hope) primarily out of the concern for the public interest and the rule of law consistent with that course of action would win the day, since the two other factors operate in direct contradiction of one another. Upholding his human rights by not returning him to US custody and leaving him at large is not in the public interest, so it takes a back seat to the lesser of two evils. They might prevaricate for a few months and try to hide behind mountains of legal briefs, but no public official or Minster worthy of the post would embrace that decision as the more desirable one.

Scale that analysis of the issue back down to what we are considering here. Assume for a moment that there is an extradition treaty in place with Jordan requiring that we acceed to their request that we return him to their jurisdiction to answer the charges against him that he was convicted of when he fled here.

In that instance, are we obligated to return him? Yes. Are we obligated *not* to return him and grant him bail? Yes. Has he violated UK law? If he has, we don’t have the evidence sufficient to convict him, so it’s moot. Has he got ties and connections to people who have committed violent acts and have pledged to commit further violent acts citing his teachings as their main inspiration to do so? Yes. Is he in contact still with such people currently? We don’t know. Could he get back in contact with them in the future easily and create further intrigue domestically? That’s fairly likely and we have to conclude it’s likely also that he will try. If he does, can we arrest him for inciting others to violence or conspiracy to commit terrorist acts? Quite unlikely. Can we make the charges stick and secure a conviction? Given past form, highly unlikely. Is it in the public interest therefore that he remains at large, albeit under tight surveillance? No. Is it in the public interest that he goes back to Jordan and stands trial there? Certainty, I would argue.

Would that be a violation of his human rights in defiance of the EHCR treaty obligations? Yes. But treaty requiring his extradition to Jordan is in place (and I can’t imagine any reason why it wouldn’t be), if we keep him here, we’re violating the rule of law either way.

In that circumstance, the public interest has to win out. And the public interest is not served by hanging onto him and releasing him on bail, even under curfew restrictions.

@65

“Treating justice and due process as some pick and mix buffet is the reason we eneded up with Guantanamo, torturing prisoners and with a situation where people can be locked up for years having not been found guilty of any crime. Feel free to participate in all the Blimpish huffing and puffing about this case, but don’t pretend that riding roughshod over fundamental freedoms is either risk free, or morally defensible.”

I never suggested it was morally defensible. It isn’t. Merely practical. 

The rule of law is only an effective protection for societies when the courts are able to function and carry out sentencing on those it finds to be guilty.

The Jordanian court is currently unable to carry out it’s sentence or retry the accused because the accused absconded rather than face prosecution and sentencing.

The British court is unable to act independently to order his deportation because it’s blocked from doing so and so has been forced to act in a manner contrary to it’s better judgement by releasing him.

In both instances, the ability of the justice systems to prosecute and enforce their respective laws is compromised.

And Guantanamo is the wrong example to use to pillory someone with, we allowed suspects to be removed via extra-judicial rendition, but we never sent anyone there and we had no active hand in conducting the detention or interrogation of detainees once they were there; we were morally complicit in allowing it to happen and not stopping it or not protesting loudly enough when it started going on, but we didn’t come up with it ourselves.

The better example is the suspension of trial by jury in Northern Ireland in terrorism related cases; they’re called Diplock Cases. The last one was tried in such a way in 2006. They’re carried out in cases where there is a reasonable expectation that it will be impossible to ensure that a jury trial can be carried out fairly and in public without compromising the outcome.

Forget any tangential culpability for letting the US carry on the way they do at Guantanmo these, we absolutely DID do, as an emergency measure because the court system itself had broken down and was unable to function properly. Witness intimidation was rife, communities closed ranks and jury nullification was a real and significant problem.

Although they were first introduced under Ted Heath’s government, successive Labour governments (including the last one) kept them and continued use them because juries could not be relied upon in such a polarised atmosphere to convict the guilty. It was a highly undesireable state of affairs and an imperfect solution to a deep and chronic problem, but the problem was a real and serious one.

The alternative is to try the case in court as normal with the full expectation that the accused will be aquitted in spite of a strong case to contrary, a wall of silence from potential witnesses in the accused’s community and the very real risk of getting any witnesses who do testify killed, along with one or two members of jury possibly as well.

Doing nothing is not an option. And the next step beyond that if that doesn’t work is Internment and detention without trial, which is ineffective and creates even more problems than you and before that.

And again, we did that in Britain. And got tried and found guilty (again, quite rightly) by the ECHR, no less, for treatment of prisoners during interrogation that was essentially described as being not actually torture, but not actually a million miles away from it.

I resent the implication in your comments in respect of two ways – firstly, I totally disagree with your characterisation of this potentially being the first step on a very slippery slope, once we start down it there’s no coming back and it’s a one -way trip to the bottom if we do. Bollocks. That’s just manifestly untrue. We went FAR further down the slippery slope and were infinitely more morally culpable in our treatment of suspected IRA terrorists and ordinary citizens interred in Northern Ireland than we EVER have with any Islamist exteremists arrested and detained here domestically and successfully managed to rebalance our moral compass back to it’s current equilibrium, proving that it can be done. And given our appalling record of human rights abuses highlighted by the ECHR case brought against us for our policy towards suspects and detainees in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, on what basis do you, I or anyone on this board presume to have the moral authority to condemn the Jordanian authorities for the way they question, interrogate and try their own domestic terror subjects?

That goes for criticising the Americans behaviour in Gitmo and elsewhere as well, by the way – condemn them for their practices and the gross inhumanity and degradation of their interrogation policy and their conduct towards terror suspects in their custody all you want and I’m always going to be first in line for that, but anyone who adopts such a holier-than-thou pretence of moral superiority in the conduct of our armed forces towards detainees is guilty of such a grossly engorged sense of delusional hypocrisy and righteous indignation it borders on the narcissistic.

The second thing I resent from your implication is that anyone who takes the view that someone convicted of a serious offence who abuses a series of legal loopholes to avoid punishment should be made to serve their sentence is in some sense of the right or expressing some kind of jingoistic, nationalistic, xenophobic sentiment, or “Blimpish”, to use your term; you seem to be under the impression that our justice system is both faultless and and manages always to hold the guilty to account in every instance, punish them accordingly and is materially superior to any other legal system the world over (outside of Europe), which are all barbarous, inhumane and unjust without exception. When we have a 100% conviction rate for rape prosecutions in this country, and every footballer caught driving whilst over the limit gets arrested and charged, I might be more inclined to take that view of the matter seriously.

In the meantime, the fact remains that the Jordanian legal system has shown already it’s able satisfy a court there that he has provable ties to terror groups and should be jailed to protect the public, while the British courts have failed tie him conclusively to any crimes he’s widely suspected of having a hand in; I’m loathe to put my faith totally in British Justice or Police Intelligence gathering, given the 18 years it took to tie Stephen Lawrence’s killers to the case and the Jean-Charles De Menezes botch-up and dozens of others like it, so my gut instinct here is to be pragmatic and say a conviction in hand is worth two in the bush. Acting decisively may have a cost, but the alternative is to do nothing and hope that things get better and risk them becoming far worse as a result. Far better to take the initiative.

Spike: This simply isn’t a comparable analogy. America is not Jordan. It’s highly unlikely that anyone would be convicted of murder in America almost solely on the basis of evidence obtained through torture. If they were, and if they fled here and a court decided that was the case, we would surely be fully justified in not sending them back.

When it comes to the death penalty, I think it would have to depend on whether or not they had already been convicted; if they had and death was the sentence, I assume negotiations would take place similarly to as they are in Qatada’s case and we would seek the commuting of the sentence to life imprisonment. As unpalatable as that would be to all concerned, I can’t imagine there would be any way around it. In any case, this is the most hypothetical of hypothetical situations: a quick search suggests the only recent notable convicted escapee in America to evade recapture is Edward Salas, and those that do understandably prefer Mexico to our sunny shores.

On your other point as far as I can ascertain we do not have a full deportation treaty with Jordan, which is why the memorandums of understanding came into being in the first place. As stated above, the ECHR accepted that Qatada would not personally be mistreated, despite the misgivings I and others would have of accepting the word of an authoritarian state that they won’t torture this particular prisoner. We have no such undertaking from Jordan that evidence obtained through torture won’t be used against a deportee, hence why we are breaking no treaties through following the ECHR decision that we can not send him back. Despite all the sound and fury from the government, they are actually doing the (almost) right thing in trying to find a way that he can be sent back without the torture evidence being used against him. I’d prefer that he was tried here and simply don’t accept that there isn’t a case that could be built against him, but no one is going to mind as long he faces a fair trial in Jordan.

spike1138 @67

So, hypothetical situation; a convicted American serial killer (somehow) breaks out of Death Row, makes his way to the UK and sets up home in the middle of Kettering. He hasn’t broken any UK laws, but we have an extradition treaty with the US, which obliges us to arrest him and send him back, where he has a death sentence waiting for him. But we also have a treaty with Europe that forbids us to send him back to suffer execution.

Where does the rule of law come down on that one? Which treaty takes precedence? And what about the responsibility Ministers in the government have to act in accordance with the public interest?

All three are deciding factors in that instance, the obligation to return the fugitive, the fugitive criminal’s human rights and the public interest.

Article 2 of the Convention says Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

So on the face of it the death penalty is not prohibited by the Convention.

But let’s look at a real case where the USA sought the extradition of a person indicted for capital murder: Soering v United Kingdom – 14038/88 [1989] ECHR 14 (7 July 1989)

the decision: http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/1989/14.html (the applicant won by only six votes to five – a controversial judgement)

tl;dr The Court found that the death penalty in itself was not prohibited by the Convention, but the circumstances around it could lead to a breach of the Convention: here, the so-called “death row phenomenon” would breach Article 3 of the Convention, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

a summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soering_v_United_Kingdom

The U.K. government obtained further assurances from the U.S. regarding the death penalty before extraditing Söring to Virginia. He was tried and convicted of the first degree murders of the Haysoms and, on 4 September 1990, sentenced to two consecutive life terms. He is serving his sentence at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia.

These are not insurmountable difficulties.

But treaty requiring his extradition to Jordan is in place (and I can’t imagine any reason why it wouldn’t be), if we keep him here, we’re violating the rule of law either way.

Qatada isn’t an extradition case, which is made clear in the judgement.
http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2012/56.html

spike1138,

… you seem to be under the impression that our justice system is both faultless and and manages always to hold the guilty to account in every instance, punish them accordingly and is materially superior to any other legal system the world over (outside of Europe), which are all barbarous, inhumane and unjust without exception. When we have a 100% conviction rate for rape prosecutions in this country,… I might be more inclined to take that view of the matter seriously.

Um, what? 100% conviction rate would mean our justice system is faultless? I don’t think you mean that.

72. the a&e charge nurse

[65] “civilized societies should be and are judged by how they treat people whose views they disagree with” – nobody would have heard of AQ if he was just your typical jew, woman, gay hating religious nut, there are plenty of them about – no, AQ is an issue because of his ACTIONS (which have resulted in extreme violence according to some).

Bigoted thoughts are one thing, nobody here is arguing is that he should not be entitled to stew in his own toxic west-hating brew, but shoe bombing on trans-atlantic flights is another thing entirely.

What makes me laugh is how sensitive some are to the imperfections of AQ’s treatment by the legal system yet their steadfast refusal accept that he remains dangerous – the influence of such men is well known and I have no doubt there might be one or two proxies willing to continue AQ’s important work?

The next time someone is having their throat cut on youtube you can guarantee there will be a man of god, one of AQ’s brothers if like, fanning the flames in the background.

@ 68 Spike

“In both instances, the ability of the justice systems to prosecute and enforce their respective laws is compromised”

Yes, it probably is to an extent, but as has been repeatedly pointed out there are good reasons for it; your position that “doing nothing isn’t an option”, and that it is intolerable for the British courts to be forced to act “against their better judgement” simply amount to a cri de couer as witnessed in the commons from the unacceptable face of Daily Mail carpet biters that we be allowed to ride roughshod over the rule of law and due process, because essentially we don’t like foreigners telling us what to do.

In the case of the UK, the solution is (as others have pointed out) to try the individual for offences committed here, as there certainly seems to be scope for doing given his actions. In parallel, we need guarantees from the location we are trying to send him back to that he will not be tortured, and also that he will not be convicted on the basis of evidence obtained by the use of torture. Our government seems to be convinced that the first of these applies (tho many others are doubtful), the second however still seems unresolved.

I don’t think your dismissal of the Gitmo experience is justified; our fingerprints are all over it; yes, we could and should have done more to prevent it, but by our supine acceptnace of american policy, we are culpable and contributed to a huge compromising of the moral authority of “western” governments internationally.

Similarly, your reliance on the NI experience is misplaced; nobody sane would argue that there aren’t situation in which emergency measures have to be taken in conflict situations…. the $64,000 question is how such measures are implemented, with what controls, and how easily are the rowed back. Whatever the shortcomings in NI, it wasn’t Gitmo, it was more controlled, and we can’t be sure that because the situation there changed and we COULD roll back the measures taken, we will ipso facto be able to do the same if we go down the rout advocated by right wing nutters, the Daily Mail and people like you who so desperately want us to do something, in fact ANYTHING, however detrimental to our own ultimate liberties and wider moral authority.

“I resent the implication in your comments….”

Tough! If the cap fits, you need to wear it. Your comments have amply demonstrated that behind all the long winded explanations, there is little actual content, and that whilst you SAY it wouldn’t be a slippery slope, there is every chance that it would.

” on what basis do you, I or anyone on this board presume to have the moral authority to condemn the Jordanian authorities for the way they question, interrogate and try their own domestic terror subjects?”

On the simple basis that it is the right thing to do. As a subject of the UK, I am not somehow disbarred from condemning the Jordanians, or indeed anyone else for their faults, simply because my country has a bad record in some respects too! What sort of weird logic is that? It’s the same kind of codswallop the non-interventionist came up with on here prior to Libya, and just as wrong… we weren’t supposed to intervene, because we were culpable / imperialists / colonialist / suporters of Israel/supporters of Arab reactionaries… much better of course to let thousands die. It’s the same false logic.

“The second thing I resent from your implication… (blah, blah, blah)..”

Again, tough. We all know that most of those railing against the wind are indeed blimpish fools who do actually want to see our society wander off into the deep blue yonder, where we would be free of all this ECHR foolishness, and equally free to render suspected terrorists where we liked, detain people indefinitely, and bring about more of the kind of things you purport to oppose in your final paragraph. For “acting decisively” and “taking the initiative” as you so blandly put it, read “acting contrary both to morality and legal process”. I have no illusions about our justice system, but once again the faults of our own system don’t give us some magic “get out” clause prohibiting us from criticising others, or allowing us to send people back to potentially be tortured, subject to unfair trial, or even out to death.

@72 a&e

“What makes me laugh is how sensitive some are to the imperfections of AQ’s treatment by the legal system yet their steadfast refusal accept that he remains dangerous…”

I haven’t heard anyone here (or indeed elsewhere…?) claim that he wasn’t dangerous… so either you are none to observant, or just making it up to feed your existing wrong headed view.

If AQ has committed offences in this country, then by all means let us ensure he is charged, tried and sentenced for them. Let us not however throw the baby out with the bath water and make bad law on the basis of hard cases as a result of some inchoate rage whipped up by the political right. Yes, people have said that AQ personall isn’t going to be the one planting bombs, but that his ideology and pronouncements might encourage and radicalise others…. but the way to address that is to ensure he is legitimately prosecuted for crimes here, not to detain him indefinately without charge or trial, and/or ship him back to Jordan contrary to international agreements and that nagging morality thing… you know, that thing which means we’re better than the ones doing the throat slitting on YouTube.

Protecting our society from dangerous radicals of whatever stripe is important, but it has to be done in a measured way, not in response to some knee-jerk moral panic whipped up by the nastier reaches of the political right.

spike1138,

In 1955, they were drafting laws to protect the Jews, not to protect Mengelé or Himmler; what they probably didn’t properly consider fully was that the same law written to protect the Jews also protected Mengelé…

I hope they did consider it.

Nuremberg Principle V seems pertinent: Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

Regardless:

European on Convention Human Rights, Article 1: The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.

Article 6: In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. … Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

Everyone.

@71

“Um, what? 100% conviction rate would mean our justice system is faultless? I don’t think you mean that.”

You’re absolutely right, and I hesitated about phrasing it that way for that precise reason; but you and I both know that only a tiny fraction of serious sexual assault cases every see the inside of a court room, and the ones that do have something like an 8% conviction rate. Much as I want to hope that only 8% of those prosecuted for rape are actually guilty, it’s pretty clear which side of the victim/defendant balance of interests is being consistently failed by our criminal justice system.

As it stands, we are far more likely to successfully prosecute people for failing to have a TV license than we are for the class of crime that comes in right below murder and deliberate manslaughter. And I don’t see anyone who has a solution to that problem.

But you’re right, a 100% conviction rate is a witch trial, not a criminal one. I fudged the language to make a point, and you’re right to pull me up on it.

@75

“Nuremberg Principle V seems pertinent: Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.”

In as much as that relates to Abu Qatada’s case though, it doesn’t. He isn’t charged with a crime under international law. He’s charged with a crime under Jordanian law and we’re trying to charge him under UK law.

The Nuremberg Principles define what is and isn’t a war crime and how they should be tried. He isn’t accused of committing war crimes. He’s accused of (amongst other things) blowing up a school in times of peace.

@75 ukliberty

Just so. I seem to remember in the early days of the Gitmo fiasco having debates with those who saw it as a “necessary evil”, or even quite justified under the circumstances, that one of the prime reasons that it was a mistake was that it would come back and bite us in the arse because we would be tarred with the same brush as the type of regimes we “ought” to be better than.

Treating the prisoners there in accordance with the Geneva convention should have been a no-brainer…. which considering those in charge at the time probably explains a lot!

Whatever the claims that Nuremburg represented “victors justice”, the fact remains that the accused were given fair trials, as has happened more recently to some high profile mass muderers from the Balkans and central Africa etc.

I always find it slightly troubling that people can baldly come out with statements like Spike’s that amount to an invitation NOT to give those accused, even such as Mengele, or Mladic, or Gaddaffii etc. etc, the benefits accorded to everyone else.

“It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.”

79. the a&e charge nurse

[74] “I haven’t heard anyone here (or indeed elsewhere…?) claim that he wasn’t dangerous… so either you are none to observant, or just making it up” – but just a few short comments it was said “If you feel at risk of being harmed by Qatada may I respectfully suggest you ‘get a grip’ [47].

UKL’s response arose because I suggested there was a conflict of rights i.e. my right not to be blown up (obviously meant as a proxy for ANY innocent bystander being blown up) vs AQ’s right to the finest lawyers the british tax payer can afford to stump up for him.
I might be wrong, but as far as I know his fellow travelers in the jew, women, gay, western liberalism hating business have been rather reticent when it comes to funding his rent, family benefits or indeed exorbitant legal fees – not surprising perhaps when the subject of AQ’s opprobrium (i.e. us) have been funding his way of life for nearly 2 decades, despite him being an illegal immigrant.

Much is being made of the “nagging morality thing” but as far as I know the methods used to extract dubious confessions were indistinguishable from the methods used on the likes of the Birmingham 6 – so does this disqualify the UK as suitable place to prosecute AQ since we are just another country with a tainted reputation?
Unlike the B6 at least AQ has the eyes of the international community on him, not to mention assurances from Jordan that he will not be mistreated – in this respect the standard of justice he will receive is probably superior to that received by some british subjects in a british court.

I’m going to finally come out and say it. after half thinking it for quite a long time.

”Shami Chakrabarti is really annoying”.

She was on with Andrerw Neil talking about this last night.
Just deport the guy. Simple as that.

Spike1138,

“Nuremberg Principle V seems pertinent: Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.”

In as much as that relates to Abu Qatada’s case though, it doesn’t. He isn’t charged with a crime under international law. He’s charged with a crime under Jordanian law and we’re trying to charge him under UK law.

I know it’s not pertinent to Qatada. If you look again at my comment @75 – where Qatada is not mentioned – you’ll see me quote the part of your comment I feel it is pertinent to.

“In 1955, they were drafting laws to protect the Jews, not to protect Mengelé or Himmler; what they probably didn’t properly consider fully was that the same law written to protect the Jews also protected Mengelé…”

The point being, even in such times we said it is a fundamental principle that even such people as Mengelé should have a fair trial.

82. the a&e charge nurse

Oh, and just to add – if AQ really is unhappy with the reception given to those allegedly involved in mass murder, he has been free to leave the UK at any time – but I must admit if I was being housed, clothed, fed and feted by top lawyers I might find it difficult to move onto some other country that treats suspected terrorists so badly.

A&E,

UKL’s response arose because I suggested there was a conflict of rights i.e. my right not to be blown up (obviously meant as a proxy for ANY innocent bystander being blown up) vs AQ’s right to the finest lawyers the british tax payer can afford to stump up for him.

I agree there is a conflict of rights. We have discussed it in this thread. We have to weigh up the competing interests.

What risk do you believe he poses to anyone in the UK, right now?

Much is being made of the “nagging morality thing” but as far as I know the methods used to extract dubious confessions were indistinguishable from the methods used on the likes of the Birmingham 6 – so does this disqualify the UK as suitable place to prosecute AQ since we are just another country with a tainted reputation?

FFS. No-one involved says there is a “climate of impunity prevailing in the [UK police or security services] and toleration of torture by its senior members” or that torture routinely occurs or that any witnesses against Qatada in the UK have been tortured.

@73

“Yes, it probably is to an extent, but as has been repeatedly pointed out there are good reasons for it; your position that “doing nothing isn’t an option”, and that it is intolerable for the British courts to be forced to act “against their better judgement” simply amount to a cri de couer as witnessed in the commons from the unacceptable face of Daily Mail carpet biters that we be allowed to ride roughshod over the rule of law and due process, because essentially we don’t like foreigners telling us what to do”

I take the opposite view; I don’t like telling foreigners what to do. Dictating to other countries how to run prosecute their own criminals and making it clear to them that the way the do it ordinarily isn’t nearly good enough to meet *our* exacting standards is deeply troubling to me on some level.

And there’s a wider issue here that I haven’t seen much raised during this; I think that it’s very important that he’s tried in an Arab court.

The entire justification for the Americans using Gitmo was that they didn’t trust even friendly Muslim countries to arrest, detain, imprison and fully debrief terror suspects within their borders and pass on the intelligence they gained from them. They just had no confidence in ANY Muslim state to jail Muslim extremists and keep them locked up. Israel takes exactly the same view, which is why it so frequently goes and takes matters into it’s own hands.

Here we have a totally absurd situation where a friendly, moderate Arab regime in the middle east have not only rounded up and caught a whole terror cell, but we’re now in the absurd position of insisting that they’re not ALLOWED to have one of it’s ring-leaders back and punish him because of rough and shoddy 1970s style Gene Hunt policework carried out in the conduct of the original investigation.

I’m not arguing the legal complexities of the case, here, I’m just recontextualising how this looks from afar – in the reductionist, clash of cultures Us vs. The Terrorists Bushite model of world affairs, of course we she hold him here…. We should hold him here, lock him up for a thousand years and never give him back. Because Arab states don’t punish Arab terrorists.

I happen to believe that anything that perpetuates that kind of thinking and worldview of global terrorism is inherently dangerous and retrograde and to be avoided at all costs wherever possible.

Sending him back to Jordan sends a powerful message that we are prepared to make a vote of confidence in the ability and confidence we have in Muslim states to police Muslim extremism themselves and enforce their own laws.

At the minute, we just seem from afar to be arrogant, superior, feckless and weak, whilst pandering to a clearly dangerous man by letting him walk free. Which is all the worst aspects that the extremists ascribe to the West as it is, and we’re acting in a way that appears to be proving them right.

A&E,

Oh, and just to add – if AQ really is unhappy with the reception given to those allegedly involved in mass murder, he has been free to leave the UK at any time …

He hasn’t been free to leave the UK at any time for some time.

86. the a&e charge nurse

[83] “What risk do you believe he poses to anyone in the UK, right now?” – I can’t answer that question, although I might be able to answer it if I had been inducted at the same terrorist training camps in Afghanistan that AQ was reported to have attended – if I said there was a secret plan to fly planes into the twin towers you would probably say it was far fetched?

The fact that the extent of police corruption in the UK is not as bad as Jordan must be of great reassurance to likes of the B6 – my point was that NO system is perfect and that if you have enough lawyers on your side they can always find something that might fall short in the court of perfection.

@79

“the subject of AQ’s opprobrium (i.e. us) have been funding his way of life for nearly 2 decades, despite him being an illegal immigrant”

That’s not actually technically true – I’m not actually aware of how he entered the the country originally, but he is in fact an asylum-seeker, and a successful one. By definition, that makes however he came to enter the UK not illegal, even if he waited several years before making an asylum claim.

Whether he ever should have been granted asylum status and then subsequently leave to remain within the UK after that time is a wider question, given the persecution he claimed protection from back home by the authorities appears to be fairly well justified by his activities in the late 80s and early 90s.

Given the workload of IND and the wealth of asylum claims at the time, I’m hardly surprised that his case was waved through on the nod and that’s a decision we’re stuck with now, but for a decade, we legitimised his claim that the Jordanian authorities were persecuting him unfairly for his beliefs (which include his belief that blowing up a school full of American children was both good and necessary) and shielding him from responsibility for his actions.

damon,

I’m going to finally come out and say it. after half thinking it for quite a long time.

”Shami Chakrabarti is really annoying”.

She was on with Andrerw Neil talking about this last night.
Just deport the guy. Simple as that.

Well, I just want to say I’m convinced and I honestly wish I could retract everything I’ve written about this issue. I mean, that you find Shami Chakrabarti “really annoying” definitely outweighs all my concerns about fair trials, the rule of law and treaty obligations.

I for one really appreciate your erudite contribution. But, I have to ask, why didn’t you show up 80 comments earlier?

@85

“He hasn’t been free to leave the UK at any time for some time.”

I’m sure that this has been proposed and rejected for very good legal reasons, but the simple solution does present itself, there…

Can we refer to this may as the “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” option?

@84 spike

I have no qualms about upsetting the Jordanians, and I don’t buy the faux concern that we shouldn’t be nasty to them because we aren’t perfect ourselves. It does matter that our system isn’t perfect, but it certainly shouldn’t lead to us pulling our punches when it comes to criticising foreign states for their shortcomings…. that’s just nonsensical.

If there WAS an Arab court that could be trusted to try him fairly, fair enough…

Sending him back to Jordan without being as sure as we can be that our concerns are being met would indeed send a powerful message; the message would be that we are prepared to tolerate torture, unfair trials, and that we don’t believe in the universal nature of the principles that we purport to uphold. The fact that we sometimes don’t meet the highest standards ourselves doesn’t give us some get out of jail free card to look the other way.

The reason the people in e.g. the Arab world often have a negative view of “the West” is not because of our desire to uphold the legal principles we are discussing here, or a free press, or freedom of religion… it’s because of the policies successive governments have pursued, our support for oppressive regimes.

The protesters involved in the Arab spring want at least in part to uphold the very principles your suggested course of action would undermine. They aren’t demanding we respect the laws of existing authoritarian regimes to show how even handed and politically correct we are… they are demanding fully democratic systems, which IF AND WHEN INSTITUTED would obviate the AQ problem.

Until they reach the sunny uplands however, your “recontextualising” looks a lot like allowing injustice and compromising principles to assuage our colonial guilt.

91. the a&e charge nurse

[87] and how we have come to rue that decision (granting asylum) – I think it is true that he arrived on an illegal passport and that both he and his large family have been receiving benefits ever since? (plus legal aid).

It is a system that must suit AQ since there seems to be no onus on him to act morally, for example by admitting that a society with inclusive aspirations is perhaps not the best place for him – unless, of course he sees it as his divine mission to propagate sharia and other nasty elements of religious extremism amongst liberal democracies?

[85] you’re splitting hairs – if AQ gave an undertaking to leave I’m sure the british authorities would be happy to let him go – do you know if are they looking for spiritual leaders in any of the jihadi training camps?

A&E,

[83] “What risk do you believe he poses to anyone in the UK, right now?” – I can’t answer that question, although I might be able to answer it if I had been inducted at the same terrorist training camps in Afghanistan that AQ was reported to have attended – if I said there was a secret plan to fly planes into the twin towers you would probably say it was far fetched?

Not at all, I am satisfied to believe the UK authorities that this particular individual has all kinds of horrible designs. But risk isn’t just about what you can imagine, it’s about what you can actually do.

The fact that the extent of police corruption in the UK is not as bad as Jordan must be of great reassurance to likes of the B6 – my point was that NO system is perfect and that if you have enough lawyers on your side they can always find something that might fall short in the court of perfection.

The system doesn’t have to be perfect. What it can’t be is so imperfect there is a “real risk of the admission of evidence at the applicant’s retrial of obtained by torture of third persons”.

What has “Terror” to do with any of this. Why must people insist an emotional sentiment be grounds for the repatriation of people(s) who are proven unwanted by those(for instance the Police) who know the individual by his deeds?

Also why is it important to note that this Islamic cleric may have a negative influence over other Muslims? What makes the writer so certain they could potentially endanger non-Muslim civilians within the UK should action be taken to remove the man from the UK. Is the writer acquainted with the Islamic faith, its constitution and legal jurisprudence? Does the writer fear more an Islamic reaction than a reaction from the man’s community should repatriated to Jordan be conducted?

I am uncertain why the writer felt a need to flap about Democracy in this pre-occupation of his/her time, and why they quoted the passage they did. Would the writer care to elaborate what it is they were trying to convey?

If I recall correctly, wasn’t Inayat Bunglawala of MCOB also regarded as a trouble maker by authorities, concerned citizens and journalists alike. Funny isnt it, another Muslim who admits to printing and the distribution of propaganda littered with militant themes and open call for ‘Intifada’ who has reserved a ‘do not disturb’ status within the UK’s shores.

spike1138,

The entire justification for the Americans using Gitmo was that they didn’t trust even friendly Muslim countries to arrest, detain, imprison and fully debrief terror suspects within their borders and pass on the intelligence they gained from them. They just had no confidence in ANY Muslim state to jail Muslim extremists and keep them locked up.

Guantanamo Bay had sweet-FA to do with not trusting “friendly Muslim countries to arrest, detain, imprison and fully debrief terror suspects”; it was a detention facility for people captured in or near the conflict in Afghanistan, deliberately chosen by the Bush administration (specified to make clear I do not conflate that administration with the USA) to put staff outside legal accountability and detainees outside the protection of any law, domestic or international and to use torture enhanced interrogation techniques against the detainees.

At the minute, we just seem from afar to be arrogant, superior, feckless and weak, whilst pandering to a clearly dangerous man by letting him walk free.

Unless you think being subject to surveillance and allowed out for two one-hour periods a day is freedom, Qatada isn’t free.

96. the a&e charge nurse

[95] “Qatada isn’t free” – yes, shame on us for not leaving AQ free to stoke up hatred amongst his co-jew, women, gay hating comrades – surely there must be a few more Richard Reids out there waiting to have the right buttons pressed – who better to do it than a man so cruelly oppressed by the british legal system?

A&E,

[95] “Qatada isn’t free” – yes, shame on us for not leaving AQ free to stoke up hatred amongst his co-jew, women, gay hating comrades – surely there must be a few more Richard Reids out there waiting to have the right buttons pressed – who better to do it than a man so cruelly oppressed by the british legal system?

Jesus, FFS, or insert word that represents exasperation here.

I wasn’t criticising our system for putting Qatada under surveillance and house arrest, I was criticising spike1138 for suggesting Qatada is free.

@96

Your insinuating that AQ makes it up as he goes along, an impromptu pied piper capable of leading the minions along should it take his fancy. The Islamic community are not even half as glib and flippant as the self righteous common all garden British democrat.

99. the a&e charge nurse

[90] “Until they reach the sunny uplands however, your “recontextualising” looks a lot like allowing injustice and compromising principles to assuage our colonial guilt” – how will the arabs know they have reached a suitable standard, I mean is it a test of some sort, a test that can only be judged by european standards?

This has got fuck all to do with colonial guilt and more to do with the absolute cynicism of men who dedicate their life to playing with fire then cry like a baby when they are asked to account for themselves – lets say we were holding the big daddy himself, Osama Bin Laden (a hypothetical question, obviously) would you extend the same protection to him assuming he had been convicted in an arab court that did not meet the european ideal?

@99 Pretty sure we’d have something to charge the big man himself with as well, assuming we were too busy deporting him to the states first. Can’t really see Arab states getting a look in, tbh.

@96 a&e

To echo ukliberty.. are you on something, or just not paying attention?

Firstly AQ hasn’t BEEN free. I’m all in favour for locking people up if they are found guilty of promoting religious intolerance/hatred, calling for people to be killed etc, provided that it is proven in court that they have done so, and what they have been proven to do/say is illegal.

If he is such a threat to our liberties, or likely to whip up others into committing violent acts, then let us ensure that he is tried and convicted to remove the threat. Let us not lock him up indefinitely, compromise out own principles, give ammunition to our enemies that we are little better than them, or consider sending someone to a country for trial when we have reason to suspect he won’t receive a fair trial.

If you disagree with all that, we might as well simply forgo all the niceties and advocate taking anyone we though might be a threat out the back and having them shot…. that’d be a sure fire way of ensuring he wasn’t a threat.

102. the a&e charge nurse

[97] “I wasn’t criticising our system for putting Qatada under surveillance and house arrest” – but he if he is not guilty of anything (proved in a court that abides by the highest standards) then surely the logic of your argument demands that we should criticise the authorities for unfair harassment?

Either charge him, or let him be, otherwise the european judges will have another case on their hands?

103. the a&e charge nurse

[101] it is UKL who says AQ should be under house arrest not me – but as you know he HAS been found guilty of something but that court has been deemed not good enough.

I don’t think OBL was ever found guilty of anything, though?
Applying the highest court standards in cases of international terrorism is never going to be easy (for obvious reasons) not least because wrong doers go to extreme lengths to cover their evil deeds – meeting the most rigorous evidential standards in such cases when europe’s top lawyers are in full swing must be a rather unenviable task.

A&E,

lets say we were holding the big daddy himself, Osama Bin Laden (a hypothetical question, obviously) would you extend the same protection to him assuming he had been convicted in an arab court that did not meet the european ideal?

You keep talking about ideals, about perfection; you raise a false dichotomy, we do not demand perfection as I said earlier:

The system doesn’t have to be perfect. What it can’t be is so imperfect there is a “real risk of the admission of evidence at the applicant’s retrial of obtained by torture of third persons”.

I would extend Zombie Bin Laden the same legal protection. I would extend a person suspected of being a multiple rapist murderer paedophile terrorist tax evader the same legal protection.

That everyone is entitled to a fair trial is a long established and fundamental and excellent principle of English law.

[97] “I wasn’t criticising our system for putting Qatada under surveillance and house arrest” – but he if he is not guilty of anything (proved in a court that abides by the highest standards) then surely the logic of your argument demands that we should criticise the authorities for unfair harassment?

Either charge him, or let him be, otherwise the european judges will have another case on their hands?

The outcome of the most recent bail hearing:

If by the end of [three months from 6 Feb] the Secretary of State is not able to put before me evidence of demonstrable progress in negotiating satisfactory assurances with the Government of Jordan, which satisfy the reservations of the Fourth Section, then it is very likely that I would conclude that continued deprivation of liberty would no longer be justifiable.

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/SIAC/2012/B1.html

We haven’t exhausted all the legal options:

1. Negotiate further assurances – this is being done, outcome uncertain.

2. Appeal to the Grand Chamber.

3. Ask one of other friends who apparently want to speak to him – Algeria, the USA, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Italy – to seek to extradite him. We might have a Convention rights issue with Algeria but the others should be OK.

None of those three options involve Qatada being free to wreak havoc on the British mainland or breaking the rule of law.

[101] it is UKL who says AQ should be under house arrest

Where did I say that?

105. Chaise Guevara

@ 103 A&E

“I don’t think OBL was ever found guilty of anything, though?”

In the hypothetical event that he had been captured in Britain, he could have been put on the stand for any number of offences.

“Applying the highest court standards in cases of international terrorism is never going to be easy (for obvious reasons) not least because wrong doers go to extreme lengths to cover their evil deeds – meeting the most rigorous evidential standards in such cases when europe’s top lawyers are in full swing must be a rather unenviable task.”

Well, in the case of OBL, he did kinda keep sending out videos going “It was me, I did it”.

In general: yes, it can be hard to convict any offender who’s done a good enough job of burying the evidence. But what’s your point here? Do you recommend we do away with presumed innocence?

106. the a&e charge nurse

[104] “I would extend Zombie Bin Laden the same legal protection” – so you would put meeting the highest evidential standards above the risk of possible violence being perpetrated by guys like OBL while at large, men who have dedicated their lives to a new form of warfare?

Of course OBL was never convicted of anything – perhaps there is a case for prosecuting Obama for murder – I mean why is it OK to shoot one (alleged) terrorists while the other is being underwritten by the british taxpayer?

107. the a&e charge nurse

[105] “Well, in the case of OBL, he did kinda keep sending out videos going “It was me, I did it” – so did ‘arry redknap – in the hands of the right lawyer such details can easily brushed aside.

A&E,

I don’t understand your second paragraph @106.

People suspected of murder tend to be held pending charges and, when charged, held pending trial.

I suggested three approaches in Qatada’s case that don’t breach the Convention or undermine English principles or free him to cause mayhem.

What do you suggest? An unfair trial?

Well done. *slow hand clap*

109. the a&e charge nurse

[106] I’m saying that different approaches have been applied in different cases.

Some have been shot (OBL) some are feted by top lawyers (AQ) – what is the basis for such distinctions?

Like AQ I understand OBL was more of an ideas man who left the actual killing to others – I mean why has there been no clamor to put obama on trial for sanctioning an extra-judicial murder?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13263426

@95

“Guantanamo Bay had sweet-FA to do with not trusting “friendly Muslim countries to arrest, detain, imprison and fully debrief terror suspects”; it was a detention facility for people captured in or near the conflict in Afghanistan”

That’s not entirely true. The first detainees sent there were from the initial Afghan campaign, but those taken there by rendition flights subsequently came from all over the world, some snatched off the street by their own governments and handed over to US forces, some just snatched. And it wasn’t done to stop terrorist activity in Afghanistan, it was done to break global terrorist networks (real or immaginary) and obtain intelligence for ongoing and future campaigns.

And while it’s nice to place all the blame for such practice solely on th Bush administration (would that that were true), Obama hasn’t closed it, despite promising to. And that’s without even taking into account the several dozen CIA Black Sites all across the globe that the US continues to operate for just that purpose and which we know currently almost next to nothing about.

And look at the Bin Laden Assassination raid; Obama sent in Navy SEALS to capture or kill Bin Laden, violating the airspace of an ally (Pakistan in the process). His military chiefs advised him that the Pakistani regime could not be trusted to arrest him themselves and either try him or hand him over or even not to tip him off so he could flee before the raid, which is pretty abundantly clear was correct.

It’s fairly obvious that people at an extremely high level in the successive Pakistani governments, the army and the ISI knew and had known for a very long time exactly where Bin Laden was and were lying to protect him which accepting more and more aid dollars every year on the pretence of continuing the search and beefing up the non-existent security in their northern border regions, which were a lawless terrorist bandits paradise. It’s absurd to think that they didn’t know where he was and couldn’t have arrested him themselves at any moment.

That Jordan identified AQ as a serious threat decades ago and took steps to punish him is praiseworthy. That Pakistan is still a member of the Commonwealth after their behavioue and conduct when we booted out Zimbabwe for Mugabe’s policies reflects pretty shamefully on us.

A&E,

Some have been shot (OBL) some are feted by top lawyers (AQ) – what is the basis for such distinctions?

ISTM the “basis for such distinctions” is the differences in the circumstances.

I mean why has there been no clamor to put obama on trial for sanctioning an extra-judicial murder?

I recall lots of criticism.

Are you suggesting PM David Cameron should order a covert operation against Qatada?

Spike1138,

And it wasn’t done to stop terrorist activity in Afghanistan…

I know – that’s why I said “conflict in Afghanistan”, and didn’t use the word “terrorist”.

And while it’s nice to place all the blame for such practice solely on th Bush administration

I didn’t – I said the Bush administration chose Guantanamo. I shouldn’t have to mention that the Bush administration isn’t currently responsible for it.

Of far greater concern regarding Obama is his use of drones as an assassination tool.

114. the a&e charge nurse

[111] ‘the “basis for such distinctions” is the differences in the circumstances’ – how can we ever judge ‘differences’ if OBL never stood trial?
In the absence of a trial surely all that remains are a series of allegations, and if we apply the legal standard ALL men are innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

Both AQ and OBL rose to prominence primarily because they were instrumental in inciting terror (although admittedly OBL had been a foot soldier in his earlier years).
Maybe OBL’s body count was higher than AQ’s, I don’t know, yet despite each man plowing the same violent furrow both have been dealt with in entirely different ways – not only was OBL taken out with the prez watching his execution on telly, but there has been barely a murmer in protest presumably because there was little doubt about the deeds OBL was said to have perpetrated?

It has been claimed that AQ is close to being equally odious, yet in his case we have liberals tripping over themselves to ensure he is OK now that he is nicely settled in the UK and to all intents and purposes almost certain to spend the rest of his days living on benefits (unless an exciting opportunity for a jihadi trainer opens up this side of Amman).

While Cameron’s covert operation sounds tempting I would quite happily settle for deportation to Jordan with the necessary assurances and international surveillance, you know the same option suggested by the law lords not that long ago.

@82. the a&e charge nurse: “Oh, and just to add – if AQ really is unhappy with the reception given to those allegedly involved in mass murder, he has been free to leave the UK at any time – but I must admit if I was being housed, clothed, fed and feted by top lawyers…”

A minor quibble about the word “feted”. Lawyers do not normally worship their clients — although we have seen recent exceptions outside of Islamic extremism which are irrelevant — and we should presume that AQ employs “barristers for hire”. AQ’s barristers present a case for his defence which does not mean that they love him.

@113

“Of far greater concern regarding Obama is his use of drones as an assassination tool.”

I think the telling significance of the drone flights policy is that as much as the US does not trust it’s allies in government in Pakistan and elsewhere to get the job done with regards to rounding up militants in the region, it has not that much more faith in its own soldiers to get the job done either.

And after 11 years of constant and costly war on two fronts, with a weary and disillusioned army, an inscrutable enemy, poor public opinion at home, sketchy intelligence, no clear war aims and no end in sight, who can blame them?

117. the a&e charge nurse

[113] if you read big, bad Noam (Chomsky) US regimes are the biggest terrorists of all – and by some margin.

@110. Spike1138: “That Pakistan is still a member of the Commonwealth after their behavioue and conduct when we booted out Zimbabwe for Mugabe’s policies reflects pretty shamefully on us.”

You know what, Spike1138, when I applied to the Diplomatic Service the bleeders did not let me in. Was it something that I said at the flaming interview? Consequently, like you, I have no idea what UK diplomats say to Pakistani diplomats. I have to accept that relations are what they are until somebody gives me evidence.

I have no doubts that members of the Pakistani intelligence services are insiders of extremist organisations. But that is a separate problem from how UK gov talks to Pak gov.

A&E @114, if you don’t see a difference between the circumstances of Qatada and bin Laden, between the UK admin and Pakistan admin, between the UK admin and US admin, and all the rest of it, I don’t know what to say.

While Cameron’s covert operation sounds tempting I would quite happily settle for deportation to Jordan with the necessary assurances and international surveillance, you know the same option suggested by the law lords not that long ago.

I suggested three approaches in Qatada’s case that don’t breach the Convention or undermine English principles or free him to cause mayhem. What’s wrong with that?

there has been barely a murmer in protest [about OBL's death]

this is quite simply false.

@113. Cylux: “Of far greater concern regarding Obama is his use of drones as an assassination tool.”

Drones (robotic or remote control war devices) create a moral distraction or a PR distraction. Over emphasis of their role trivialises war. War is blood and guts, and no matter how many drones circulate over Afghanistan, the ground conflict is about blood, guts and numbers. Nobody cries when a drone is taken home in a body bag.

Returning to Cylux’s point: it is inconclusive whether drones have killed anyone close to Obama (dead? obliterated evidence?). OBL was killed by an invasion squad — blood, guts and numbers.

More abstractly, how should we use drones and robots?

@120. ukliberty contradicting another:

“this is quite simply false [to associate liberals with state executions].”

The execution of Bin Laden took my breath away. If it was possible to take him alive…

Similarly, liberals were appalled by treatment of the Ceausescu family many years ago: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/574200.stm

@122

“this is quite simply false [to associate liberals with state executions].”

Not true. The only two people to be executed by the United States Government (as opposed to the individual state governments) since 1960 have been tried and put to death under Democratic presidents who declined to intervene and extend clemency to them by commuting the sentence to life.

The last one was Timothy McVeigh, tried and sentenced to death by the Clinton administration.

The one before that was a man by the name of Victor Furman, executed in Iowa in 1963.

He was denied his Presidential request for clemency and commutation by none other than John F Kennedy, despite a personal appeal on Furman’s behalf from the Democratic Governer of Iowa, who was personally opposed to capital punishment. Kennedy wasn’t.

We have it on tape. It’s here:-

http://web2.millercenter.org/jfk/audiovisual/whrecordings/dictabelts/conversations/jfk_dict_13a2.wav

And here:-

http://web2.millercenter.org/jfk/audiovisual/whrecordings/dictabelts/conversations/jfk_dict_14a1.wav

And on a larger scale let’s not forget, as Chomsky has pointed out since, the Vietnam War was not a war begun by conservatives, it was a war largely begun, conceived and fought for it’s first 8 years by liberals, both in the White House and the Congress and in the Ivy League establishment.

Not to mention (and there’s an entire episode of the West Wing of the same name, given over to this very issue of extra-judicial killing and military assassination), We Killed Yammamoto… The FDR Administration scrambled a whole wing of aircraft in the Pacific war specifically to assassinate Admiral Yammamoto by bringing his plane down with whatever means necessary to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor he has planned and commanded.

The left can’t pretend to have had no harm done in our name, even if we go in with the best of intentions.

And as Aaron Sorkin noted in the West Wing script I mentioned above, when the President notes, “Civilians get trials….It’s just wrong, Leo… It’s absolutely wrong…”, his chief of staff turns to him gravely and just says, “I know. But you have to do it anyway.”

Returning to Cylux’s point: it is inconclusive whether drones have killed anyone close to Obama (dead? obliterated evidence?). OBL was killed by an invasion squad — blood, guts and numbers.

To be honest I was referring to Awlaki and others killed in the secret war in Yemen :- http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/01/world/la-fg-awlaki-killed-20111001

More abstractly, how should we use drones and robots?

This is, frankly, a topic that needs discussing far and wide, because the more ‘automated’ warfare becomes, the harder it is to surrender.

@125

Quite frankly, I think it’s also pretty crucial that if you are going to wage war, you are at least emotionally engaged with it.

If the damage and collateral cost to your enemy is high in terms of blood and treasure and the cost to yourself is negligible (no soliders in harms way, even for a supposed good cause, makes for good politics) then why not do it more?

All wars have contained within them a cost-benefit analysis in whether they are worth engaging in; that’s why American history commemorates so well the War of 1812, whilst the British couldn’t care less, really… We weren’t at all committed to it and didn’t really bother trying very hard as there wasn’t really much to be gained by engaging with it particularly hard. Plus, we were far more preoccupied with defeating Napoleon at the time, so it didn’t really seem that important at the time.

@123. Spike1138: “Not true. The only two people to be executed by the United States Government (as opposed to the individual state governments) since 1960 have been tried and put to death under Democratic presidents who declined to intervene and extend clemency to them by commuting the sentence to life.”

Nasty conduct, Spike 1138, I agree. But it would be fair to say that rejection of capital punishment has been a common policy of liberals in the UK and western Europe for 50 years. Let us hope that such a decline towards electoral expediency (capital punishment for votes) doesn’t return here.

@126. Spike1138: “Quite frankly, I think it’s also pretty crucial that if you are going to wage war, you are at least emotionally engaged with it.”

Yes, you raise one reason why asymmetric warfare is problematic. Another is that if the less technological side are numerous and fanatical and popular, war cannot be won by force.

As a believer in ethical intervention, I understand the dilemmas. Sort of.

Qatada’s bail conditions.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17019222


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