Thursday, July 8, 2010

In Europe but not run by Europe?

According to the European Arrest Warrant any member state of the European Union can demand the immediate extradition of just about anybody from Britain, whether the crime in question is one in this country or not. But our government cannot extradite condemned terrorists, inciters of mass murder or men accused of raising finance for terrorists to the United States even if our courts have agreed to it after a long and exhaustive discussion.

The BBC reports that the European Court of Human Rights has halted the extradition to the United States of well-known cleric Abu Hamza Al-Masri, who is already serving a seven-year sentence here for "for soliciting to murder and racial hatred" as well as three other men who are accused of breaking laws on both sides of the Pond.
The three other men facing extradition are Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan and Haroon Rashid Aswat. Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan were allegedly involved in raising funds for exremists. Mr Aswat is accused in relation to the alleged terror camp.
It seems that the ECHR does not exactly disagree with the fact that these people ought to be tried for the crimes they are accused of committing; the problem is that they might be given very long sentences in the United States, which will have to be served in tough gaols and that will breach their human rights.

Without getting into arguments about human rights for people whose aim in life seems to be to inflict as much pain and damage on other human beings as possible, let us consider the coalition government's attitude.

Back in the days of the election campaign, we were told by the Conservatives that they would scrap the Human Rights Act and return to the Common Law (as well as preserve parliamentary sovereignty but that is another subject). By the time of that famous Coalition Programme for Government, the promise was watered down somewhat [scroll down to the last item]:
We will establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in British law, and protects and extends British liberties. We will seek to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties.
Or, put another way: yet another promise bites the dust. Are we surprised? Not overwhelmingly so.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May said: ""We note that the European Court of Human Rights has decided that all the applications are partly admissible. We await the court's judgement on the case. In the meantime these individuals will remain in custody."
What can I say? In Europe but not ruled by Europe.

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