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Extradition - Home Secretary must step in to prevent torture

Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)
Thursday 4 October 2012

SACC believes the Home Secretary Theresa May has a duty to suspend the extradition of Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan and others until she can make arrangements to guarantee that they will not be subject to long-term solitary confinement.

The High Court will give its judgment tomorrow on the men's application for an injunction to halt the extradition. The judges have already said that they will not overturn the decision by the DPP to block the private prosecution of Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan by businessman Karl Watkin. Families of the men visited them today at Long Lartin Prison in Worcestershire in anticipation of their extradition.

But the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, wrote yesterday to the British Government warning that the extraditions would breach the UN Convention Against Torture because the men would be held for years in solitary confinement in "supermax" prisons in the US. The European Court of Human Rights has already ruled that extradition to "supermax" prisons would not breach the men's rights. However, the fact that this decision has been followed by a warning from the Special Rapporteur on Torture means that there are still strong grounds for concern. On any reasonable interpretation of the Convention Against Torture, this is a warning that Britain should heed.

Juan Mendez said yesterday that he could see no reason why the British Government could not impose conditions on the extraditions, such as assurances they would not be held in solitary confinement

Richard Haley, Chair of SACC said:

"These men have had the dice loaded against them from the outset. The proceedings in the Royal Court of Justice this week have been deeply disappointing and troubling and leave many questions unanswered. But the buck stops with Theresa May. In the light of the intervention from Juan Mendez, she is under a clear duty to suspend the extradition until arrangements can be made to guarantee that the men will not be held in prolonged solitary confinement."

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