This is a guest post by Shiraz Maher
Reacting to the news that Abu Qatada will soon be deported from these shores, Inayat Bunglawala exclaimed:
“Do you have any evidence that [Qatada] has [been involved in terrorism]? If so, I suggest you do us all a favour and get in touch with the police.
If Abu Qatada has been involved in terrorism – and we have evidence of that – then charges should be brought against him and he should be and tried [sic] properly in our courts. I mean isn’t that meant to be how we are supposed to do things in the UK. Oh wait, Qatada is a Muslim and has a scary beard..silly me.
Aah, where do I even begin with all that?
The main point is that there is evidence of Qatada’s involvement in terrorism offences which is precisely what the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) will have considered before the case was referred (on appeal) to the Lords. There may well be questions surrounding the validity of such evidence – particularly if it was extracted by torture – but that is not the point Bungle makes when he suggests that the decision to deport Qatada is arbitrary and motivated by malice. In any event, even if Qatada wants to challenge the quality of evidence against him, this is not a matter for the British courts.
So, now that we can establish there is evidence against Qatada, what next? Bungle insists
“charges should be brought against him and he should be and tried [sic] properly in our courts. I mean isn’t that meant to be how we are supposed to do things in the UK”.
Er, no. That’s not how we’re supposed to do things in the UK. You see, Qatada is not accused of committing any crimes in this country so there is no case for him to answer here or for the British courts to consider. Instead, he’s wanted by the Jordanians to answer charges over there. You following all this Bungle?
In such cases, the law is governed by the Extradition Act 1989, which states:
1 Liability to extradition
(1) Where extradition procedures under Part III of this Act are available as between the United Kingdom and a foreign state, a person in the United Kingdom who—
(a) is accused in that state of the commission of an extradition crime; or
(b) is alleged to be unlawfully at large after conviction of an extradition crime by a court in that state,
may be arrested and returned to that state in accordance with those procedures.
So the Law Lords are acting entirely within their remit today by making sure that Qatada is returned to Jordan to face charges.
That is how we do things in the UK. It is a principle known as “the rule of law”.
We all know that Bungles is very concerned about justice and equity so I had to clear this up for him. Now that I have, will you be supporting this decision Bungles, or do you think Qatada’s still being deported because he’s “Muslim and has a scary beard”?