Thursday, April 19, 2012

Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza should be tried here for the crimes they're suspected of - we shouldn't deport even our worst enemies to be tortured

I completely agree that Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza's views are extreme and morally wrong - and that if they have encouraged people to carry out terrorist attacks targeting civilians or helped fund or organise them they should be charged, tried and jailed. None of that can justify deporting them to countries where they will most likely be tortured and convicted based on statements made by other people under torture though.

"Assurances" from the Jordanian government (basically a dictatorship under the King of Jordan) that they will not do either of these things to particular prisoners extradited to them from European countries including the UK have been proven worthless. This has been established by investigations by Human Rights Watch and by Amnesty International (1) - (2). They've also found that torture in Jordanian prisons is routine and brutal right up to present (3) - (4). That makes Home Secretary Theresa May making a great show of seeking of "assurances" on Qatada just a pantomime done for the sake of appearances.

The right wing media circus in the US could to lead to Hamza, if he is deported to America, being sent to Guantanamo in Cuba for torture, or the US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan, or secret US prisons in Afghanistan, where prisoners are tortured and tried by 'military tribunal' kangaroo courts (5) - (10).

If Hamza and Qatada have encouraged, funded or helped organise terrorist attacks on civilians, as they are alleged to have done while in the UK, they should be given fair trials here, with a jury. If they're found guilty they can them be jailed for their crimes.

There are excuses given by the Home Office about the supposed difficulties of getting a conviction in court, but British Historian Professor Mark Curtis in his book 'Secret Affairs' (on British government dealings with radical Islamists) and investigative journalist Richard Norton-Taylor say the real reason this option has not being taken is that British intelligence and the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch had many mutually beneficial dealings with Hamza and Qatada throughout the 1990s which would be likely to come up during a court case here and embarrass them, the British government and possibly senior members of both main UK parties (11) - (12).

Another likely reason that neither have been charged and brought to trial here is that the Conservative party are keen to create an easily avoidable dispute with the European Court of Human Rights as part of their propaganda against the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act. Neither prevents us trying or jailing either of these men. Neither have anything to do with the EU - they existed long before the EU, were always separate from it and the European Community and are based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights which was written in order to ensure that we never slipped back into the horrors of the Holocaust and the Second World War.

The right wing of the Conservative party also have an irrational hatred of anything European or foreign which is so extreme that they might as well be calling for the abolition of foreign countries and foreigners.

Those who promote extreme interpretations of Islam often call those who disagree with them "hypocrites". We are more likely to deny them more recruits by showing their claims false by upholding the principles we say we stand for, than by ignoring them when they become inconvenient and so seeming to prove the extremists right.

If we throw away our principles of opposing torture, demanding fair trials and holding people being innocent until proven guilty, the moment they apply to someone whose views the majority of us dislike, then we will really have allowed our enemies to destroy our way of life in a way that no terrorist attack could manage to.


(1) = Human Rights Watch 06 Oct 2011 'Diplomatic Assurances: Empty Promises Enabling Torture',

(2) = Amnesty International 12 April 2010 'Europe must halt unreliable 'diplomatic assurances' that risk torture',

(3) = Human Rights Watch 08 Oct 2008 'Jordan: Torture in Prisons Routine and Widespread - Reforms Fail to Tackle Abuse, Impunity Persists',

(4) = Human Rights Watch World Report 2012 : Jordan , ; 'Perpetrators of torture enjoy near-total impunity. The redress process begins with a deficient complaint mechanism, continues with lackluster investigations and prosecutions, and ends in police court, where two of three judges are police-appointed police officers. '

(5) = Scotsman 27 May 2004,'Soldier left brain damaged after playing unruly prisoner at Guantánamo',

(6) = Independent 14 Oct 2006 - ‘Guantanamo guards 'admitted abusing inmates',

(7) = Human Rights Watch 01 Jun 2010 'The Bagram Detainee Review Boards: Better, But Still Falling Short' ,

(8) = CBS News 13 Nov 2011 'Bagram: The other Guantanamo?' ,

(9) = BBC News 15 Apr 2010 'Afghans 'abused at secret prison' at Bagram airbase',

(10) = BBC News 11 May 2010 'Red Cross confirms 'second jail' at Bagram, Afghanistan',

(11) = Comment Is Free 14 Feb 2012 'Why is Abu Qatada not on trial?' ,

(12) = Mark Curtis (2010) 'Secret Affairs : Britain's collusion with radical Islam' Serpent's Tail/Profile Books, London, 2010 , chapter 16 (pages 265 - 276 of paperback edition)

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