European court halts Hamza extraditions

By staff

The European court of human rights (ECHR) has halted British plans to deport Babar Ahmad and radical preacher Abu Hamza to the US on terror charges.

Both men appealed to the ECHR on the grounds that their potential treatment could violate the Human Rights Convention provisions on the “prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment”.

The judges cast aside concerns that the US trials might deny them justice, or that the men would be designated ‘enemy combatants’ and exposed to the death penalty, but they had serious concerns about the ‘Supermax’ jail where they would be held.

The US Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum, Florence, Colorado – known as ‘ADX Florence’ – raised concerns about torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act.

“Their complaints under Article 3 concerning the stringency of conditions there for what could be the rest of their lives [raises] serious questions of fact and law of such complexity that the court [has] to examine them on their merits,” the judges said.

The ruling does not apply to Mr Hamza who would only stay at the prison for a short time but the court wanted more time to examine possible human rights breaches if the men face trial on charges which could result in life sentences without parole.

The decision halts extradition proceedings for the time being. The government has until September 2nd to submit its observations.

“The court decided to prolong, until further notice, the interim measures it had adopted indicating to the UK government that it was in the interests of the proper conduct of the proceedings that the applicants should not be extradited while the cases were being examined by the court,” the ruling said.

Home secretary Theresa May responded: “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.”