It\’s Said That…

Hard cases make bad law. In this case I think it might be the other way around.

Abu Qatada, described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, won his fight against deportation yesterday as the Court of Appeal delivered two blows to attempts to remove suspected terrorists from the country. Three judges blocked the deportation of Abu Qatada despite a “no torture” guarantee given to the British Government by Jordan.

The man (and the others affected by the ruling) seem like scum buckets to me, to be sure. But they are indeed human beings and as such have natural rights.  Fair trials, no torture and the like. And as we are (for the moment at least) a country under the rule of law, a law which acknowledges those natural rights, then they cannot be sent to a place where those rights are abridged.

The hard part is that such seeming scumbuckets get our protections: the good part that such protections are indeed enforced by the law.

As Larry Flynt memorably pointed out, if the law protects shits* like me then you can be sure it will protect you too. That\’s the whole point of it.

 

* (I paraphrase from memory, you understand.)

17 thoughts on “It\’s Said That…”

  1. Cleanthes, as I understand the reports of the judgement (the judgement itself doesn’t yet seem to be online), the court found that Qatada would be unlikely to get a fair trial in Jordan, and therefore we mustn’t deport him.

    Even scumbags are entitled to a fair trial, which makes sense if you think about it.

  2. What have the puffins done to deserve being banged up with Abu Qatada?

    Now, that’s a sentence you won’t read every day…

  3. “As Larry Flynt memorably pointed out, if the law protects shits* like me then you can be sure it will protect you too. That’s the whole point of it”

    Well this illustrates the problem of assuming that the rights granted to scumbags will be extended to everyone else. The US courts upheld the freedom of speech rights of the likes of Flynt and other low lifes (quite rightly), but when laws were passed infringing on the general public’s right to free speech, as in the McCain Feingold bill, the courts did not protect them.

    I would also agree with Cleanthes that Qatada forfeited his right not to be deported. He originally did have asylum in this country but he abused that position to associate with terrorists so it seems quite reasonable that he loses it.

  4. Well, sort of…

    We have (or should have) the freedom not to be incarcerated, but we forfeit this freedom when we commit a crime. Get busted for burglary or murder or whatever, lose some of your natural rights. That’s ALSO part of the rule of law.

    The question here is (or ought to be) “which of his natural rights has this scumbag forfeited?”

    We should not be in the least concerned that his rights are going to be infringed – that is a consequence of being a scumbag and the rule of law REQUIRES such consequences. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any rule of law.

    My view is that where this scumbag goes is simply not our problem in the slightest. It’s his. If he can’t find somewhere to go that won’t torture him, that is his lookout. Our involvement with him ought to stop with “you’re a scumbag that has forfeited any right – if you ever had any – to be in this country. If the only place that will take you is going to torture you, perhaps you ought to have thought about that before burning your boats here. Now Piss off and don’t come back. “.

    An extradition REQUEST by another country is another matter. If the request is made by a country that is going to torture your man, and if we have no reason to want to get him out of this country ourselves, then yes, the behaviour of the requesting country is relevant. But that is not what I understand is happening here.

    It is us trying to get rid of him. Where he goes really shouldn’t be our problem.

  5. Even scumbags are entitled to a fair trial, which makes sense if you think about it.

    Sure a fair trial in the UK, for anyone accused of a crime here. If they are foreigners wanted by another country, then the fairness of the trial is not our problem. Show reasonable cause and they are yours.

    The alternative is that the system effectively invites scum bags here from across the globe, by promising a get out of jail free card. Thus our government would be failing in its primary duty, our safety.

  6. If they are foreigners wanted by another country, then the fairness of the trial is not our problem.

    Hmm. Presumably in your world, India would be deporting the Dalai Lama to China right about now…

  7. It is interesting that Cleanthes and Serf disagree on the detail.

    Regardless, the difficulty here is that the fairness of Qatada’s trial is our problem – we have signed up to an international agreement, the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been interpreted to prohibit us from deporting people to countries where they are unlikely to face a fair trial.

    Sure, we should be able to deport scumbags when it’s in ‘the public interest’ to deport them but it’s also in the public interest to hold to international agreements and national legislation. Note that we haven’t renegotiated the agreements or repealed the legislation.

    So yes, sadly sometimes this means that it looks like some people won’t get their just desserts. But I would rather have trials by law than public opinion or just that a politician has pointed the finger and said so-and-so is a terrorist, and then off we ship them to a country that isn’t as decent as ours, no matter how badly I think of that person.

    With regard to the point about the ‘get out of jail free card’, it seems a bit silly because Qatada remains in prison pending deportation, and he has been in prison for substantial periods of time over the past few years despite not having been convicted of any crime. It therefore seems a bit unreasonable to claim he has somehow got off lightly despite being connected to terrorism.

  8. Presumably in your world, India would be deporting the Dalai Lama to China right about now

    Under normal extradition laws, the requestee has to demonstrate reasonable cause, and the crime has to be a crime in the country where the accused is resident. (At least in theory).

    So no, I am not suggesting that.

    Regardless, the difficulty here is that the fairness of Qatada’s trial is our problem – we have signed up to an international agreement, the European Convention on Human Rights

    Then we should withdraw. The public’s right to be protected shoyuld outweight the right of non citizens to get a free trial.

    We should be able to deport who we want, to where we want. Anyone who is not a citizen is a guest and they live by our rules. Once they have been given citizenship, we protect them as our own.

  9. Under normal extradition laws, the requestee has to demonstrate reasonable cause, and the crime has to be a crime in the country where the accused is resident. (At least in theory).

    Incitement to terrorism is a crime in the UK, and that’s what China has accused the Dalai Lama of…

    “The public’s right to be protected shoyuld outweight the right of non citizens to get a free trial.”

    Protected from what? The guy’s already in bloody jail – it’s just we think it’s fairer to keep him in the mild misery of a British nick than to let the Jordanians torture him to death…

  10. “it’s just we think it’s fairer to keep him in the mild misery of a British nick than to let the Jordanians torture him to death…”

    Even the judges are no longer peddling the idea that Qatada himself is going to be tortured.

  11. At what point does someone become a scumbag and effectively make themselves an out-law and beyond the protection of the law of the land, international law and the courts?

    Tim adds: That would be never. Even someone convicted after a fair trial still has rights that are and should be protected by law both domestic and international and enforced by the courts.

  12. “Protected from what?”

    Quite.

    Now, here is the judgement.

    I don’t believe the judges ‘peddled’ any particular idea. One of Qatada’s claims was that MOUs weren’t worth the paper they’re written on, that he would be tortured as soon as he returned. The judges in this case disagreed.

    What they did say was that the trial would be unfair because of the legal system over there, but that in itself was not sufficient to prohibit Qatada’s deportation. The second, perhaps more important factor in the fairness of the trial was that there was a “real risk” evidence may be used that was obtained by torture – “which raised fundamental Convention issues” regarding Article 3, the prohibition of torture, as well as casting doubt on the fairness of the trial itself (Article 6).

    Great Simpleton, in theory no-one is outside the protection of the law, despite argument to the contrary from some quarters. In practice, of course, someone can undergo something like ‘extraordinary rendition’, and we can argue in court about where they are, and to what protections they are entitled, while they languish in prison without having any real way to challenge their detention.

    Again, Qatada may well be a scumbag, but he has never been convicted of a crime here, and if he is as bad as made out I struggle to understand why.

  13. I always look upon situations like this in terms of my household. In this instance, Qatada is a guest, invited in after he requested sanctuary.

    If, as it appears he abused that sanctuary, as the householder, I would simply lead him to the front door and kick his raggy arse down the front path. Where he went and what he did the moment he quit my property would be entirely his own business. If he found a new home more to his liking and lived a life of peaceful contentment, then I’d wish him well; but if he continued to act with evil intent toward me or others in my home I’d consider myself perfectly within my rights to slot the bastard.

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