Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Torture is Wrong

(Enough to give God a bad name)

Briefly, Omar Othman, known as Abu Qatada, has a long track record for advocating the use of reasonably indiscriminate violence in support of political Islam. Terrorism, in other words. Today the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the UK couldn't extradite him to Jordan. But this is not the "liberal courts are coddling terrorists" mantra beloved of the Daily Mail and the other bits of the right wing press.

Rather, the Court seems to have ruled on the narrow issue that the Jordanian prosecution of Mr. Othman was likely to be based on evidence extracted under torture, therefore violating the right to a fair trial. Rightly so. But the ECtHR also accepted that the UK could rely on the diplomatic assurances provided by Jordan that it wouldn't torture Mr. Othman, and therefore in future the UK could do so again to States with questionable human rights record.

We shall see. All very interesting, and I expect Mr. Othman to face trial at some point. But after waiting for nearly a decade, it could be a while.

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