Updated | Abu Hamza and others -v- Home Secretary – Read official summary
Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz have lost their High Court Judicial Review challenges to their extradition to the United States to face terrorism related charges. The court refused permission to apply for Judicial Review.
Two weeks ago the European Court of Human Rights refused the men’s requests to refer their extradition appeal to its Grand Chamber for another hearing. This meant that their case, which was decided in the Government’s favour in April (see our post) became final and there were in theory no remaining barriers to their extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges [Update, 7.10.12 - they are already in the United States, so no more legal shenanigans on these shores].
The men each brought different judicial review claims as a final challenge to their extradition, and those claims have – quite rightly – been dealt with rapidly by the High Court, which rejected the claims outright. As the court’s summary says, these proceedings are “the latest, and if we refuse permission, the last, in a lengthy process of appeals and applications that has continued for some eight years in the case of three and 14 years in the case of two.”
When dealt with at an oral hearing, refusals by the court of permission to apply for Judicial Review are not appealable. So pending any legal shenanigans (I can’t think of anything more they can do but as Julian Assange has taught us all, anything is possible), the (this time really) final barrier to extradition looks to have been removed.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly bulletin of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
In the news
The European Court of Human Rights has refused the request of Abu Hamza and four others to refer their extradition appeal to its Grand Chamber for another hearing, meaning that their routes of appeal have finally (probably) come to an end. In other news, the Chagos refugees have gone to court over a note to Baroness Amos concerning their resettlement and teachers have been granted anonymity when facing criminal charges.
UPDATED | I have been sent the Statement of Facts and Grounds for Judicial Review on behalf of Abu Hamza, dated 25 September 2012. These are open court documents and have been obtained directly from the Royal Courts of Justice.
Abu Hamza’s extradition has been put on hold whilst this Judicial Review claim is being dealt with this coming Tuesday [update - I understand that another issue is being dealt with on Tuesday, and that the passport point is not the one which has held up the extradition]. I think this may be a ‘permission hearing’ (the first hurdle a JR claim has to surmount) although it may well be a ‘rolled up’ hearing, which means the permission and substantive aspects will be dealt with all at once. A few points to note (nb. this is my quick summary, and is only of course of one side of the case – Abu Hamza’s):
This particular claim is very limited. He applied for and was granted a passport on 11 November 2011 and although this was sent on 20 November 2011 to Belmarsh Prison, where he was located, the passport has not yet been given to him. He has also requested photocopies, to no avail.
He claims that the failure to provide him with his passport or copies of it is contrary to Home Office Guidance Note 20, as well as potentially Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private and family life) and the EU Citizen’s Directive 2004/38/EC. For what it’s worth, this is fundamentally a legality challenge under ordinary public law principles – the human rights aspect of it is likely to be in the background. So although it would technically be correct to say he is challenging this decision on human rights grounds, that aspect is only likely to play a small part in the claim.
The European Court of Human Rights has refused the request of Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (Abu Hamza) and four others to refer their extradition appeal to its Grand Chamber for another hearing. This means that their case, which was decided in the Government’s favour in April (see our post) is now final. There are therefore no remaining barriers to their extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges.
But why has it taken so long to decide the case? The men argued that if extradited there was a real risk that their article 3 (torture and inhumane treatment) rights would be contravened by being held at a ‘Super-max’ prison and by having to face extremely long sentences. The extradition requests were made by the United States in July 1999 (Adel Bary), May 2004 (Abu Hamza) March 2005 (Barbar Ahmad), August 2005 (Haroon Rashid Aswat) and September 2006 (Syed Tahla Ahsan). In other words, a long time ago.
BABAR AHMAD AND OTHERS v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 24027/07  ECHR 609 – Read judgment / press release
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber, has found that five men accused of serious terrorist activities can be extradited from the UK to the US to face trial.
They had argued that their article 3 rights (article 3 prohibits torture, inhuman and degrading treatment) would be violated if they were extradited and convicted. A sixth man’s case has been adjourned pending further submissions from the parties to the proceedings.
Mustafa Kamal MUSTAFA (ABU HAMZA) (No. 1) v the United Kingdom – 31411/07  ECHR 211 (18 January 2011) – Read judgment
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected radical preacher Abu Hamza’s claim that his 2005-6 trial, at which he was convicted of soliciting to murder, inciting racial hatred and terrorism charges, was unfair. He claimed that a virulent media campaign against him and the events of 9/11 made it impossible for the jury to be impartial.
Abu Hamza has lived in the UK since 1979. from 1997-2003 was Imam at the Finsbury Park Mosque, London. Between 1996 and 2000 he delivered a number of sermons and speeches which later formed the basis for charges of soliciting to murder, using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to stir up racial hatred, possessing a document or recording with the same intent.
As we reported recently, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission has ruled that Abu Hamza, the extremist Muslim cleric, cannot be stripped of his British citizenship since this would have the effect of making him stateless.
This is the latest in a string of decisions by various courts in a long-running legal saga surrounding the British government’s attempts to remove Abu Hamza from the UK. Hamza is also facing extradition to the United States, but this has been stayed pending the substantive decision of the European Court of Human Rights as to whether the prospect of serving a life sentence in a ‘supermax’ US prison would breach his Article 3 rights (our analysis of the admissibility decision can be found here).
Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat, Syed Tahla Ahsan and Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (Abu Hamza) v United Kingdom – 24027/07  ECHR 1067 (6 July 2010) – Read judgment
The European Court of Human Rights has delayed the extradition of four men, including the notorious Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (Abu Hamza), from the United Kingdom to the United States due to concerns that long prison sentences and harsh conditions in a “supermax” prison could violate their human rights.
In this admissibility application, the four men mounted a wide-ranging attack on the US Justice system to the Strasbourg court, in terms usually reserved for lawless rogue states. The men claimed their extradition would put them at risk of harsh treatment, extraordinary rendition and the death penalty, amongst other draconian penalties. They said that the trial of non-US citizens on terrorism charges would lead to a “flagrant denial of justice”.