Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, last night wrote to the British Government warning that the extradition on Babar Ahmad and others would breach the UN Convention Against Torture. He told the Independent:
"I think there is very good arguments that solitary confinement and SAMs (special administrative measures, which impose severe restrictions on communication with other inmates or the outside world) would constitute torture and prevent the UK from extraditing these men."
"For 22 to 23 hours a day they are left to look at a wall with no meaningful social contact with anybody, maybe one hour a day exercising by themselves. There is nothing the person can do to alleviate his isolation because it is not disciplinary but completely arbitrary. It is imposed whether they behave or not because of the offence they are charged with, a penalty before being judged, which goes against a presumption of innocence. When solitary confinement is indefinite and prolonged the psychological abuse suffered can be very severe."
Meanwhile, the hearing goes on at the Royal Court of Justice...
Extradition - Today at the Royal Court of Justice
The High Court hearing on the extradition of Babar Ahmad and others will continue tomorrow morning (Thursday 4 October). The court says it will give its decision on Friday. It says the decision will be final.
Judge Sir John Thomas has so far seemed a touch hostile.
After the judge said "it's a case where the defendant is trying to dictate where he is prosecuted," the BBC's Dominic Casciani tweeted from the courtroom a link to a recent example of the courts blocking an extradition partly because defendant sought prosecution in UK. Sadly this this doesn't seem so far to have found it's way into BBC coverage of the day in court.
Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan are asking for an injunction halting their extradition so that there can be a legal challenge to the decision not to prosecute them in the UK. To most people's surprise, the court was told that police DID pass on the bulk of evidence on Babar Ahmad to the CPS in 2004, flatly contradicting what the CPS has previously said.
Philippa Kaufmann QC, representing Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, said that they've accepted responsibility for involvement in the Azzam website and items seized in searches.
Before hearing arguments about the decision not to prosecute Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, the court heard medical evidence about Abu Hamza. Alun Jones QC, counsel for Abu Hamza said he has been kept in "utterly unacceptable conditions" for 8.5 years. A doctor's report says he is sleep deprived because of security checks every hour through the night (a light is switched on every hour), that he probably can't follow legal proceedings any longer due to attention and memory loss, and that he is not fit to plead. Abu Hamza has diabetes, high blood pressure and clinical depression. Even more seriously, two doctors say he may have a degenerative disease and needs an MRI scan. He has so far not been allowed one.
Judge Sir John Thomas said "The risk of a degenerative condition can only strengthen" the case for extradition.
With a judge like that, why is the Home Office wasting money on legal representation?
Abu Hamza's counsel says "if this were anyone other than a 'pantomime villain' he'd be allowed a scan."
Liberty announced earlier today that it is seeking to intervene in the Babar Ahmad extradition.
Tomorrow, Thursday 4 October, CagePrisoners will be hosting a press conference in front of the British consulate in New York to urge the British government to stop the extradition of Babar Ahmad and four others to the United States.
11:00 am EST, Thursday, 4 October 2012
In front of British Consulate-General, 845 3rd Avenue, New York NY 10022
- For a more balanced view of 'pantomime villain' Abu Hamza, read the new article by Moazzam Begg
- The imminent extradition of Khalid Al-Fawwaz: a lawyer’s reflections by Frances Webber
- Court reports: Tweets from court have so far been much more illuminating than coverage in the broadcast and print media. Follow @BBCDomC, @steveswannBBC, @cageprisoners, @FreeBabarAhmad, @FreeTalha