Statement from SACC
Wednesday's decision by the Law Lords to allow the deportation of Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he faces "trial" on charges based on evidence obtained under torture, has been hailed as a "landmark ruling against terrorism suspects." In fact it is a landmark ruling against human rights.
In December 2004, the Law Lords delivered a courageous and historic ruling that put an end to the internment of foreign "terrorist suspects" under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.
A year later the Law Lords delivered an equally important ruling that banned the use of evidence obtained under torture form British Courts.
On Wednesday the Law Lords went a long way towards reversing their stand for human rights. They ruled that Abu Qatadah can be deported to Jordan - a country that practices torture. Abu Qatadah was of the men originally interned under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 because the government said he was linked to terrorism, but could not deport him because he would be at risk of torture. If the Law Lords had thought then as they thought now, the governemnt needn't have bothered with its doomed experiment in internment. It could simply have packed Abu Qatada and the other detainees off to Jordan, or Libya or Algeria for the authorties there to do thier work.
Abu Qatada has not been charged with any crime in the UK. His lawyer, Gareth Peirce, says
"The House of Lords has said in terms that the trial of a civilian before a military court will not debar deportation, but more importantly, it will not stop deportation on the basis of the certain use in that trial of evidence very likely to have come from torture."
An application to appeal against the ruling has been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights.