High Court Extradition Decision Against Babar Ahmad Sets Gravely Worrying Precedent

04 Dec 2006

“The Extradition Act 2003 has made a mockery of the rights of British citizens who are accused by foreign governments of crimes in that such citizens are removed from the United Kingdom without the protection of British courts.

The cases of Babar Ahmad and Haroon Aswat raise hugely significant principles. The two are being extradited to the US to face serious charges. The recent decisions of the British High Court of Justice in their cases has demonstrated once more that in response to US requests for the extradition of British citizens the British Courts have no power to examine, even on a prima facie basis, the validity of allegations made against them. In passing the 2003 Act our government sacrificed the centuries old protection sanctioned by international law for citizens accused of crimes by a foreign government at the altar of political expediency and convenience. The Muslim Council of Britain campaigned strongly against the Act and the concerns that it raised then with regard to its arbitrary and oppressive nature are now coming to haunt us.’ said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, MCB Secretary General.

He also said, `As a consequence of the Extradition Act 2003 British citizens can now be plucked from our streets and thrown into US jails on the basis of wholly unproven allegations against them. Such actions seriously erode and undermine the rights of British citizens. We condemn such actions in the strongest terms. If there is evidence that Babar Ahmad and/or Haroon Aswat have committed the alleged crimes we call upon our government to prosecute them before British courts. It is manifestly wrong and unfair to hand these British citizens to the US government. Their extradition to the US is a serious and unjustified violation of all civilised norms of justice.

There is an immense level of disquiet and scepticism among British Muslims about the diplomatic assurances provided by the United States guaranteeing that the human rights of the two British men will not be infringed.

This particular US government has flouted international law with impunity in recent years – Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp being a prime example. Almost every day the world hears of new cases of ‘extraordinary rendition’ concerning foreign nationals from different countries who were unlawfully arrested by US agents and taken to secret cells where they were subsequently physically and mentally abused,’ added Dr Abdul Bari.