U.K. Court at Odds with Human Rights Body Over Extremist

By Matthew Harwood

Fiery Islamist preacher Abu Qatada has experienced the highs and lows of competing European legal systems over the last day when the United Kingdom's Law Lords ruled he could be deported to Jordan, while the European Court of Human Rights ruled he should receive £2500 for his illegal detention without trial after the events of 9-11.

Labeled al Qaeda's "spiritual leader" in Europe, Qatada's proclamations are said to have given legal justification for terrorists attacks around the world. Since receiving refugee status from the United Kingdom in 1994, he has been in and out of prison multiple times.

Critics of the decision fear Qatada will be tortured upon his return to Jordan, where he was convicted in absentia for helping to fund Reform and Challenge, a terrorist organization, in 1998 and 2000, according to Agence France Presse. The decision of the Law Lords, whichfunctions as the U.K.'s supreme court, reversed an earlier court's ruling that denied the Home Office's deportation request because of concerns Qatada would be tortured.

Less than 24 hours later, the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, France, ruled the United Kingdom's detention of Qatada without trial in 2002 violated the European Convention of Human Rights. The cleric was jailed under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act 2001.

According to the Telegraph:

[T]he Human Rights Court said the terms of the detention, even allowing for the special circumstances, violated three provisions of the Human Rights Convention - the right to liberty and security, the right to have the lawfulness of detention decided by a court and the right to compensation for unlawful detention.

But the judges rejected a fourth complaint, declaring that the detention of Qatada and the others did not amount to a violation of a Human Rights Convention ban on "torture and inhuman or degrading treatment."

The ruling acknowledged that at the time of the detentions, "there had been a public emergency threatening the life of the nation."

The courts' award to Qatada, £2500, which they called "substantially lower" than in previous cases, reflected the heightened national security concerns in England after 9-11.

Qatada will likely appeal the Law Lords' decision to deport him to Jordan before the European Court of Human Rights, according to the Times (of London).


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