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No doubt relief in Whitehall and the State Department following the European Court of Human Rights ruling today concerning Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad and three others. The Judges decided that extradition to the United States would not be in breach of Article 3 of the Convention. Article 3 has a mandatory prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment and as the Court observed at paragraph 200 it is “one of the fundamental values of democratic society”.
The Judgment runs to over 50 pages. It goes through all the arguments and in my view increases the status and importance of the Court and the Convention. The debate continues about extradition, the test to be applied and whether it is fair. The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons said in a report a few days ago that we must have robust extradition arrangements with the US but it should be reviewed to make sure it is fair. No doubt that debate will continue for some time.
We should not forget that if someone faces extradition his liberty is an issue. He may be sent to a country with which he has little or no connection and many miles away from his family. That is why all the issues should be carefully considered and scrutinised however serious the allegations. Those who complain about delay and treat the European Convention on Human Rights and the Court often with disdain, would do well to leaf through the comprehensive Judgment delivered today and the care taken in considering all the arguments.
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