Wednesday 24 April 2013

Abu Qatada ~ New Treaty with Jordan ~ but will it result in his deportation?

Earlier this week, the Court of Appeal refused the government permission to appeal against a decision of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in the Abu Qatada case - BBC News 23rd April.  The government will be asking the Supreme Court to grant permission to appeal.

Today, the Home Secretary - Theresa May - informed Parliament of a new treaty between the United Kingdom and Jordan which, she claims, will enable the deportation to Jordan of Abu Qatada - Parliament and  BBC 24th April

It will remain a matter for the courts to determine whether the treaty actually answers the objections to his deportation.

Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the UK and Jordan

The government will be hoping that Article 27.4 provides the solution:

"Where, before the date of signature of this Treaty, a Court in the sending State has found that there is
a real risk that a statement from a person has been obtained by torture or ill-treatment by the authorities of the receiving State, and might be used in a criminal trial in the receiving State referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article, this statement shall not be submitted by the prosecution nor admitted by the Court in the receiving State, unless the prosecution in the receiving State proves beyond any doubt that the statement has been provided out of free-will and choice and was not obtained by torture or ill-treatment by the authorities of the receiving State, and the Court in the receiving State is so satisfied."

The treaty has to be laid before both Houses of Parliament for 21 sitting days prior to ratification.  Once the treaty is in force it will still take a considerable time for the legal processes in the courts.

Head of Legal blog - Theresa May's treaty with Jordan: this is the game changer she needs.

Addendum 25th April:

UK may withdraw from European Rights Convention over Abu Qatada - The Guardian 24th April - where it is reported that the government has considered withdrawing, possibly on a temporary basis, from the Convention.  The Daily Mail (24th April) reports that:

"David Cameron is warning Nick Clegg he will get the blame if he blocks a temporary withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights to enable the deportation of Abu Qatada.

Sources close to the Prime Minister made clear he would expect the Liberal Democrat leader – who has insisted he will not countenance any suspension of the ECHR – to explain to voters why the hate preacher remained in Britain in such circumstances."

Would a temporary withdrawal be possible - rather like an opt out to the Theft Act because you like your neighbour's car?  It has to be very doubtful that it is possible to withdraw from the convention in this way as a 2003 legal opinion from Lord Pannick QC showsLegal opinion apart, commonsense and reason dictate that the convention would be rendered ineffective if States could simply opt out of their obligations in that way.  

Withdrawal from (or denunciation of) the Convention is different concept to a Derogation.  A State which derogates - as permitted by Article 15 of the Convention - remains within the convention system.   Derogation is permitted in time of 'war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation' and, even then, derogation from some articles (e.g. Article 3 - Prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment ) is not permitted. 


  1. Why on earth do we persist in this farrago. The Jordanians will have to be on good behaviour for about 10 years before this chap can be pushed off there. As for withdrawal from ECHR - ludicrous, nothing but a lawyer-fest.

    I fear we have invested so much political capital in Quatada he is being held more out of political embarrassment than any real danger to UK citizens. Pretty shameful. Let the blighter go and send him along to Atos who will surely find him gainful employment. There is after all more than one way to skin a cat.

  2. June 1996-February 1997: British Intelligence Recruits Prominent Al-Qaeda Imam Abu Qatada.

    Qatada appears to have been used by the British Security Services for various purposes. I doubt that he will be deported. Remember that Qatada has never been charged with any crime in the UK, however look at how many other persons have been detained etc. because of an association with Qatada.

  3. The new treaty is a quinessential Home Office triumph of form over substance. This from an organisation that will tolerate and reward the most terrific incompetence if it is called 'Best Practice' or throw away vast resources in the name of efficiency. The treaty provides a fautless form of words but does anybody at all think that there is the slightest prospect of a Jordanian court not solemnly making a declaration certain that it is convinced the Jordanian security services did not use torture?

    The British Govt has already conceded that there is a real danger the incriminating statements against AQ were made under torture or inhuman treatment. It is breathtaking to attempt to avoid the consequence of that by delegating to the state, that would have conducted that torture the task of deciding whether it had done so or not. The standard of proof is irrelevant if the tribunal is tainted. This whole case is patently becoming a slow motion and public rendition, motivated, quite evidently, in large part by the Home Sec's political considerations.

    When the ECHR became incorporated into domestic law I was strongly against the move for several refined intellectual reasons. But the strongest criticism if ECHR was always that the UK did not need it. I find it sad and shameful that that claim can , in my view, no longer be reasonably maintained.

  4. Roger,
    there is not so much political capital as in 'national security' capital tendered in Qatada.

    Theresa May must feel like someone in possession of a dodgy banknote with nowhere to get rid of it....

  5. I have read that Abu Qatada is facing criminal charges in several other countries, including Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Italy. As the five countries mentioned are parties to the European Convention on Human Rights and capable of providing quite credible assurances that Abu Qatada's rights will not be violated, I do not understand why the Home Office does not seek arrangements with one of these countries for Abu Qatada's extradition.