Abu Qutada

I have no idea whether Abu Qutada is guilty of inciting terrorist acts or not. I have heard assertions that he is and understand that he is wanted on criminal charges in various countries.

I do find it puzzling that if he is as dangerous as is claimed there does not seem to be enough evidence to prosecute him. Also puzzling in this light is that none of the countries where he is wanted are where the UK Government wants to send him. Have these countries not applied for his extradition?

Instead our Government wishes to deport him to Jordan (his “native” country since at the time of his birth the West Bank was part of Jordan.)

There has been much outrage expressed that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that he cannot be deported there as any evidence against him may have been obtained by torture.

Now, I am certainly glad of the protection that means I cannot be deported/extradited from the UK to a country that may employ torture. Whatever your political views you should be glad of it too.

But there is the more important point that what marks our legal system, among others into which human rights legislation has been incorporated – and some in which it hasn’t – is that due process must be followed. If we ignore the law as it stands, if we disregard court rulings – especially the ones we dislike – in what sense can we be better than those (who may include Abu Qutada) who deride such considerations and would do away with legal protections? If we do not behave in a better way than those who are against what we stand for then we would be worse than them. Would that not make us hypocrites?

Abu Qutada and any others who might think that our tolerance makes us weak are surely wrong. Tolerance (within the law) and legal processes that are above board and transparent are actually our greatest strength.

It is the transparency aspect of this case that I find problematic. Any evidence against Abu Qutada has not been tested in a British court in a criminal trial. All he appears to have done is make statements. If these were inflammatory beyond what the law allows then prosecute him. If they were not, what is the fuss about?

And if such evidence is not to be tested, if all that needs to be done to bang someone up is for a Government Minister to say so, what would there be to stop the Government saying the same about me (or you!) as they do about Abu Qutada?

Abu Qutada is apparently now being kept under more or less strict house arrest with stringent bail conditions. According to Wikipedia (first link above) neither he nor his lawyer have been allowed to see the evidence against him and his only representative, a special advocate, is not allowed to talk to him nor to his lawyer. Those circumstances would appear to strike against all the things we are supposed to be defending.

Imagine for a moment if it were you in that situation (whether or not you were guilty of anything.)

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  1. Martin McCallion

    I’ve been meaning to write exactly this post! Well done.

  2. Terror, or Not; and Bail | A Labourer at the Bitface

    […] I’ve been meaning to write a post about the Abu Qatada situation. But Jack Deighton has said all I would have; most notably, “If we do not behave in a better way than those who are against what we stand for then we woul…. […]

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