17 January 2012

Radical cleric spared UK deportation after controversial appeal

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Radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada will not be deported to Jordan after an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights ruled in his favour.

UK visa

The UK government has been trying to deport the radical cleric for six years.

While the judges accepted that the UK's agreement with Jordan to protect Qatada from abuse was sound, they considered the risk of him facing trial on evidence obtained by the torture of others was enough to prevent the UK immigration department's attempt to deport.

In his absence, Qatada, a Palestinian-Jordainian, has been convicted in Jordan of serious terrorism offences but he contests that the evidence with which these convictions were based on was obtained by the torture of other suspects.

After convincing the authoritites that he would face ill-treatment and abuse if he returned to Jordan, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan in an effort to deport him. The memorandum, which is one of many similar deals intended to preserve the human rights of anyone deported from the UK, contained diplomatic insurances by Jordan that Qatada would be protected from torture if he returned.

However, the European Court has ruled that he should not be deported while there was a risk evidence obtained by torture could be used against him.

Qatada had been on the run since 2001 to avoid being detained without charge but was apprehended in 2002 and imprisoned at Belmarsh prison. His detention was ruled unlawful in 2005 and he was released before the government detained him again and attempted to deport him.

After a four year appeal process which was contested by the Law Lords, Qatada appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in 2009.

The British government now has the opportunity to appeal the decision but if an appeal is not made within three months, the ruling becomes binding and UK immigration authorities will be forced to release Qatada from detention.


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