Laura Clarke is an International Relations graduate living in London. She enjoys writing, talking and, thankfully, quite likes rain too.
The European Court of Human Rights has removed the final significant obstacle to the extradition of five terrorism suspects from the UK to the U.S.. In ruling that extradition would not place the men at risk of human rights violations, the Court has effectively brought this contentious debate to an end.
The suspects’ relatives have argued that the men should face trial in the UK, with the sister of one describing the decision to extradite as “a serious abuse of process.” The debate centres on the decision of British authorities to hand evidence over to the U.S., without examining it or deciding whether trial in the UK would be the most appropriate form of proceedings. The argument has also been made that potential imprisonment in U.S. ‘supermax’ prisons would place the suspects at significant risk of rights violations under the European Convention of Human Rights. The Court has rejected these contentions.
Perhaps the most notorious of the five men is Abu Hamza, convicted under British legislation in 2006 of inciting racial hatred. He has subsequently become a symbol of Islamic extremism in the UK. The U.S. wishes to prosecute Hamza under charges of running a website that raised funds for the conduct of extremist activities.
The European Court’s decision is undoubtedly the right one. While the UK government celebrates, however, it must recognise that these men – innocent until proven guilty – have not been afforded their full rights to due process under the law. Politicians have been quick to support extradition; undeniably the result of wanting to see these five men outside of the UK. To prosecute and potentially imprison them in Britain would come at significant political cost. To support universal human rights is to recognise that even the guilty deserve justice.
Read more at the Guardian.