Abu Qatada: out on bail

And quite rightly too.

A senior immigration judge said yesterday that Qatada could be released despite even his own defence team suggesting that he posed a “grave risk” to Britain’s national security.

\’Coz there\’s rules, see?

We get to jail you if we\’ve tried you and found you guilty of a crime: something that was a crime at the time you did it. You get tried in front of a jury, see the evidence against you, get to argue against said evidence, have represenatation and etc. Doesn\’t matter whether you\’re a former Cabinet Minister charged with perverting the course of justice, a kiddie fiddler or suspected of being a mass murdering terrorist.

We also get to put you in jail if we\’re going to charge and then try you but we think you\’ll run away before we do…..and in a very small number of cases, if we think you\’ll nobble witnesses.

And that\’s actually about it. We don\’t get to stick you in a high security jail just because we suspect you\’re a bad \’un. No, not even if you\’re suspected of being a terrorist mastermind.

Extradition makes it all a little murkier: some who are to be extradited get bail as they\’re not flight risks (nor witness nobblers). Some are regarded as flight risks and don\’t. But if we\’re not going to extradite the bloke as we wouldn\’t allow the evidence in our own courts…..extracted by torture we think, thus tainted….then that doesn\’t apply either.

It\’s tempting to think that with a real bad \’un we should throw all of this away so that we can all sleep safely in our beds. But, you know, to be really honest about this? I sleep much more safely in my bed knowing that I cannot, on the basis of information extracted by torture, be declared a bad \’un and thus locked up indefinitely.

Remember, these rules are not here to protect the Abu Qatadas of this world. They are there to protect us, the citizenry, from the authorities.

Which is why I sleep safer in my bed of night: if the rules will protect some scumbag like him then they\’re going to protect me, aren\’t they?

I much prefer this system to the American one where suspected bad \’uns are dumped on an island in the Caribbean…..don\’t you?

36 comments on “Abu Qatada: out on bail

  1. Umm, most people are more wondering why Abu Qatada, who is not a British citizen, should be granted the same rights as those of us who are, in the ongoing attempt to make citizenship obselete: you are a member of UKIP, right?

    Moreover, under existing international law, we can’t be forced to give sanctuary to someone who is a threat to our internal security. And our friend Abu is wanted in quite a few European countries as well as Jordan

  2. “who is a threat to our internal security”

    Isn’t this exactly the bit that we only know because of evidence extracted by torture? If so, then Tim is right.

    However, where I disagree with Tim, or rather where I fear Tim has missed a wider point, is that we are not required to give sanctuary to any scumbag who wishes us ill and who otherwise has no right of residence here.

    The fact that we think he will be subject to horrible things in Jordan is a jolly good reason for us not to hand him over to Jordan. But if he is a threat to us, it is no reason at all for us not to throw him out of the country to wherever he wants to go – anywhere as long as it not here. It is surely his problem to find somewhere to go where he will be safe, not ours.

  3. Sorry to be absolutely clear, if he’s not a British citizen, it’s not our problem to keep him safe – if he has blotted his copybook sufficiently that his own country is not going to keep him safe then he’s a silly boy and that might be a lesson to him.

    He’s going to have to do some work to find somewhere else.

  4. Tim’s point is good, as far as it goes. He’s missing the real problem, in that a bunch of foreign cretins has decided that we’re not allowed to deport this cunt (or any similar cunts) on the grounds that one of his cuntish chums was spoken to a little bit harshly at home.

    Fix that problem, and the other don’t arise.

  5. I was under the impression that the Americans claimed that Guantanamo Bay held enemy combatants. Whether that is true or not is another matter, but I don’t think it disputed that the inmates were captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, or some other combat zone. or otherwise regarded as enemy operatives.

    So a little bit more than suspected “bad ‘uns”

  6. If we are at war with the bloke and his pals, we’re entitled to detain him until the end of the conflict as a prisoner of war.

    We’re not taking him that seriously, so the post is correct. The decision not to take him seriously is another matter.

  7. Sorry Tim, only 5/10. All you say applies to every British Citizen, but this man is an illegal immigrant we have no requirement to keep him safe in the manner to which he is accustomed. I agree wholeheartedly with the Pedant-General he should be deported to a place of his own choosing.

  8. “our friend Abu is wanted in quite a few European countries as well as Jordan”

    I doubt it. Because if they really wanted him they could issue a European Arrest Warrant and get him.

    If all we want to do is deport the guy, I suppose we could send him to the Palestinian National Authority, which governs the area of his birth. Israel among others might be annoyed if we did.

  9. Rupert,

    Umm, most people are more wondering why Abu Qatada, who is not a British citizen, should be granted the same rights as those of us who are, in the ongoing attempt to make citizenship obselete: you are a member of UKIP, right?

    Because we have human rights and, so far as we know, Qatada is human.

    Moreover, under existing international law, we can’t be forced to give sanctuary to someone who is a threat to our internal security.

    We aren’t forced to give Qatada sanctuary. What we may not lawfully do is send him somewhere (Jordan) where he won’t get a fair trial. We can send him anywhere else – including Jordan if they promise a fair trial (and the European Court of Human Rights is persuaded that he will get a fair trial).

    And our friend Abu is wanted in quite a few European countries as well as Jordan

    So why doesn’t the UK send him to one of them instead of somewhere that won’t give him a fair trial? In fact he has volunteered to exit the UK under his own steam but apparently we won’t let him leave unless it is to Jordan!

    This guy is supposedly so dangerous that we have to keep him locked up. But the only things the UK accuses him of doing were not crimes at the time (except perhaps incitement of criminal offences and maybe something under Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981).

    There really is no problem here at all:

    1. If we seek and obtain assurances from Jordan that Qatada will get a fair trial and persuade the ECtHR then we may lawfully deport him;

    2. We may keep him under house arrest pending deportation, if he breaches his bail conditions whack him in jail, if he commits a crime charge him and try him and if guily whack him in jail (remember, he’s incredibly dangerous so he’ll inevitably do something criminal); or,

    3. Get one of our friends (off the top of my head, France, the USA) who want to try him to request his extradition or otherwise allow him to leave the UK and don’t allow him to return.

  10. Pedant General

    But if he is a threat to us, it is no reason at all for us not to throw him out of the country to wherever he wants to go – anywhere as long as it not here. It is surely his problem to find somewhere to go where he will be safe, not ours.

    But the UK authorities will not allow him to leave.

  11. “‘Coz there’s rules, see?

    We get to jail you if we’ve tried you and found you guilty of a crime…”

    Or if you’ve breached an ASBO for something that isn’t in itself a crime.

  12. I hold no candle for this dangerous piece of radical Islamist nutterdom but …

    but this man is an illegal immigrant

    No, he was granted refugee status on the grounds of religious persecution in 1994.

    most people are more wondering why Abu Qatada, who is not a British citizen, should be granted the same rights as those of us who are

    1. See answer above.

    2. Your rights to justice should not depend on your citizenship or immigration status. I would expect the same justice to apply to tourists, business visitors, foreign students, refugees etc. Obviously, ‘entitlement to benefits’ is not the same as ‘justice’.

    In fact he has volunteered to exit the UK under his own steam but apparently we won’t let him leave unless it is to Jordan!

    Has Jordan requested he be extradited to face re-trial? I’m unclear about whether this is a deportation (we hate him), an extradition (they want him) or the both. Of course, the Jordanian request (post his 2008 in-absentia trial?) would post-date the original 2002 deportation order.

  13. TDK,

    I was under the impression that the Americans claimed that Guantanamo Bay held enemy combatants. Whether that is true or not is another matter, but I don’t think it disputed that the inmates were captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, or some other combat zone. or otherwise regarded as enemy operatives.

    So a little bit more than suspected “bad ‘uns”

    Putting aside the apparent suggestion that the whole of Afghanistan or Iraq is a combat zone….

    The notion all the detainees were captured in a combat zone is disputed because of studies of information the DoD released about some 500 of them – including a study by West Point (accused of being overly “inclusive”). Also it’s undisputed by the US government that some detainees – not all – were entirely innocent.

    The $5k bounty should be a huge warning sign – IIRC it’s about ten times the average annual household income in Afghanistan. IMV Guantanamo was a massive cock-up. I understand the need for a genuine POW camp – I do not understand what the administration at the time gained or thought it would gain by all the special rules it invented, except in terms of the freedom to do what they wanted to the detainees.

  14. “I do not understand what the administration at the time gained or thought it would gain by all the special rules it invented, except in terms of the freedom to do what they wanted to the detainees.”

    The Americans, of course, faced a difficulty not dissimilar to the one confronting the UK government over Abu Qatada. The inmates are generally suspected of actions threatening the security in states where they were either apprehended or which they were formerly operating in or against. The Americans could, of course, have turned them over to those authorities, where it’s likely that any information they had would have been extracted using methods a whole lot more unpleasant than ‘waterboarding’ & if they survived the experience, their life expectancy would have been minimal. We even have a term for the process, when it has occurred. ‘Special rendition’.

  15. “Which is why I sleep safer in my bed of night: if the rules will protect some scumbag like him then they’re going to protect me, aren’t they?

    I much prefer this system to the American one where suspected bad ‘uns are dumped on an island in the Caribbean…..don’t you?”
    He is not a British Citizen. Personally I would not let foreign fascists (and Islam is fascism) settle here.
    If you want Sharia you should not be allowed to come here.
    I want the UK to be independent and the Salman Rushdie affair showed that certain people with
    certain beliefs want us to be ruled by other countries.
    The only way we can be independent is to stop them from being here.

    “No, he was granted refugee status on the grounds of religious persecution in 1994.”
    Which seems a bit strange as he is Sunni and was living in a Sunni dominated country.
    Another example of the asylum system screwing up!!!

  16. “Which seems a bit strange as he is Sunni and was living in a Sunni dominated country.

    Another example of the asylum system screwing up!!!”

    Possibly. Or an example of the asylum system doing exactly as intended all along?

  17. Posts like this are a good litmus test of self-described ‘libertarians’ / ‘classical liberals’.

    And fair enough, test passed. We can all see the difference between the likes of Tim and ukliberty on the one hand, and on the other those whose profound commitment to universal freedom doesn’t extend much further than minimising their own tax bills, whilst locking up anyone they fancy (because we’re “at war” with them, natch).

  18. “And our friend Abu is wanted in quite a few European countries as well as Jordan”

    Wouldn’t then extraditing him to one of these countries solve the British problem quite nicely? Alas, I think you’re mistaken here.

  19. Surreptitious Evil,

    Has Jordan requested he be extradited to face re-trial? I’m unclear about whether this is a deportation (we hate him), an extradition (they want him) or the both. Of course, the Jordanian request (post his 2008 in-absentia trial?) would post-date the original 2002 deportation order.

    The proceedings are related to the deportation order not an extradition request.

  20. The proceedings are related to the deportation order not an extradition request.

    I appreciate that but if there is an extradition request, and reporting from organisations as diverse as the Telegraph and Al Jazeera says there is, it may be why the options are limited to UK vs Jordan. As opposed to UK vs “Euro Country that wants to try him” or “frankly, anywhere that will have the evil little religio-fascist scumbag.”

    Note for Larry – just because I think he’s an “evil little religio-fascist scumbag” doesn’t mean I don’t think he has the right to be such. Or that he should be imprisoned just for being such, without an actual offence being committed (incitement to murder would do.)

  21. Note for UKLiberty,

    Does that mean that blockquote now works chez Timmy?

    The proceedings are related to the deportation order not an extradition request.

    Let’s see. Happy smiley 🙂 thing.

  22. So he’s volunteered to be deported. Where to? Somalia, perhaps?

    Meanwhile the public cost of AQ is (guess) £700 a week in benefits and (even more of a guess) £7,000 a week in surveillance, which sums to about 20p per taxpayer per year.

    Cheaper than bombs, I suggest.

  23. bloke in spain,

    ISTM some of the difficulty was created by the US administration of the day as a consequence of its policies such as conflating genuine enemy combatants from the battlefield (or near it, or with evidence such as presence in training camps, which is all fair enough) with people handed to them by those interested in the reward of ten times their annual household income per victim, say, and then designating all the detainees as persons outside any law, domestic or international.

    No-one reasonable argues against holding genuine enemy combatants until the end of hostilities if necessary (there is argument about about the details, I am talking about the principle). A large number of countries, including the USA, ostensibly respect the well established body of international law that deals with this.

    (I’m sure someone will pop up to rail against the right of access to telescopes and cigars granted by the Geneva Conventions, or somesuch thing that we are not bothered about at all.)

    The right to challenge the lawfulness of one’s detention is a fundamental right. This is among the rights denied to the detainees. Then of course you have allegations of inhuman and degrading treatment and torture, and the arguments about whether waterboarding (for example) constitutes torture.

    It is abhorrent and people who claim to support such things as the rule of law and due process should not support the-then US administration’s actions in relation to Guantanamo Bay detainees.

    We even have a term for the process, when it has occurred. ‘Special rendition’.

    That is the euphemism for agents of a country’s government travelling to a foreign jurisdiction, kidnapping a person and delivering him to another foreign jurisdiction, outsourcing the kind of imprisonment and treatment that would be frowned upon to say the least if it occurred in the first country. Again, it is abhorrent.

  24. Surreptitious Evil,

    Apologies. I do not know if Jordan has formally requested extradition.

    blokeinfrance,

    No, he’s volunteered to leave the country. But he doesn’t want to go to Jordan. IIRC one of the ironies of the case is that a breach of bail was his attempt to escape the UK. One of the judgements questions whether any other country would have him.

  25. The problem we have, is not our inability to deport him to Jordan. It is his freedom of access to the British public, to whom he presents a real danger, that is the problem. We have a legally binding committment to offer asylum to refugees, and we gold plate that to a ridiculous extent. Asylum should never be permanent, it should amount to temporary sanctuary in a place of safety, until the danger of persecution in ones own homeland has passed, or an offer of citizenship is received from the UK or some third country.

  26. This is a joy to read. It’s posts like this that sorts the wheat from the chaff; the “my right to liberty but not yours”-types from the actual liberals.

    We either prosecute him or we don’t. It’s what should set us apart from those we criticise (Syria, Iran, Libya etc).

  27. I agree with Tim. The law protects Abu Qatada and us.
    However, I’m not certain that the ECHR isnt pushing the envelope on human rights a little far. The grounds on which they refused deportation are right at the bleeding edge of HR law – he might not get a fair trial because evidence based on torture will probably be used.

    Where I worry is that the ECHR is busy extending the law in a manner that has no popular legitimacy. It also has damn all political support. Most judiciaries are careful not to go beyond what is acceptable – partially because of the possibility of impeachment/removal, but also because they recognise the limits of their legitimacy. The ECHR is now so full of its own self importance and position, that they seem to be ignoring political legitimacy. This has significant potential risks – imagine if there was a case where the ECHR refuses to allow the deportation of Abu Qatada or some similar fellow in any Western European country and said nasty individual manages to commit an act of 9/11 scale barbarism. The popular dissent would become unstoppable and the arrogance of the court has stripped any real support that politicians might have been willing to give them.

    In such a case, it is more than possible that several western European nations would pull out, gutting the institution of its legitimacy and leading to intolerant Eastern states such as Russia or Belrus pulling out. It would represent a major setback to human rights.

  28. The ECHR is now so full of its own self importance and position, that they seem to be ignoring political legitimacy.

    I think you are misreading the situation slightly. The ECHR has been given immense political legitimacy by the CoE and the EU requiring accession to the treaty (and by Court of Blair over exuberance in drafting HRA98). They are then employing that legitimacy in their judicial function. We need to pull back the political delegation of authority, hold the bastards to proper account, and gain back the concept of national sovereignty within treaty limits.

    Knowing full and well that states can legitimately withdraw from treaties.

  29. SE.

    They have been given legal power/legitimacy. But it is in the weakest of possible forms – public international law. They seem to believe that they now represent a sort of constitutional court, which is encouraging their increasingly radical reading of HRL. And some readings of Blair’s HRA do go that way (eg give it constitutional status) as do the Treaty obligations of the CoE. But IMO they are not acts that give true political or should one say constitutional legitimacy and as such the ECHR is not a true Constitutional court. The HRA remains a simple Act of Parliament and the CoE is a paper tiger*. The court is dangerously pushing beyond what popular opinion will bear. Added to this are their ill-judged attacks on politicians (such as on Cameron), which further reduce their political standing and the cushion they can count on if their legitimacy comes into question.

    * Imagine a 9/11 directly traceable to a ECHR decision. I’m guessing that the public backlash would be so severe that the CoE would immediately buckle and agree that the ECHR was wrong and leaving it wasn’t a problem and that several countries would remove themselves from the ECHR. It would represent a catastrophic loss of prestige and set back HR substantially. Far better that they do not push the envelope to this degree. After all the SCOTUS chose not to intervene in segregation between Plessy (1896) and Brown (1954) or to intervene in abortion until Roe vs. Wade. (Simplifying the history of segregation and abortion a lot here…)

  30. Monty,

    The problem we have, is not our inability to deport him to Jordan. It is his freedom of access to the British public, to whom he presents a real danger, that is the problem.

    What freedom of access? He’s been in and out of prison since 2002; when he’s been out he’s been under surveillance, or subject to control order, or subject to what we would call house arrest if it happened in, say, Burma. Now he’s allowed to leave the house for two one-hour periods a day, according to the Daily Telegraph article linked to by Tim.

  31. Anyone know where he will be released to, the address?
    I would like to bump into him 🙂
    That is if someone doesn’t beat me to it.

  32. William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

  33. Ken,

    I don’t understand why you think the European Court of Human Rights is “arrogant” or “self-important” – certainly this has never been my impression from reading the judgements.

    What are they supposed to do, say “well, we think he will get an unfair trial but as, the baying mob want him to leave regardless, you’d better just shove him on a plane”? Is there a maximum number of decisions against the UK they are allowed to make a year, I wonder?

    And we are quite happy, are we, for the UK to sign up to things like the Convention, the UN Convention against Torture etc, but not comply with them?

    I sometimes think I live on the other side of the looking glass.

  34. Pingback: Abu Qatada – When Protecting Liberty is Most Improtant | Libertarian View

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