UK: Appeal judgment in the case of Othman (Abu Qatada)

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal of the Secretary of State for the Home Department against the decision of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) which held that Mr. Othman should not be deported to stand trial in Jordan. Three months after the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights holding that the deportation of Mr. Othman to Jordan would amount to a violation of Article 6 ECHR, as he would be retried there on evidence obtained by torture, the Home Department communicated its intention to deport him and refused to revoke its original deportation order from 2009. Mr. Othman appealed against this decision before the SIAC, which concluded that there was a real risk that statements obtained by torture would be used against him when retried in Jordan. Although the Home Department submitted new evidence concerning an independent composition of the court of retrial with civilian judges, assurances of the Jordanian Government, and changes in the Jordanian Constitution expressly forbidding the use of evidence obtained by torture, the SIAC, basing its judgment on expert assessments, considered that legal developments in Jordan were still required in order to be able to rule out the risk of statements obtained by torture being used against Mr. Othman. The Home Department had thus not been able to satisfy the SIAC that there was no risk of such statements being admitted. The Home Department appealed the decision of the SIAC before the England and Wales Court of Appeal which, in its judgment, upholds SIAC's analysis and conclusions. The Court of Appeal notes that the fact that Mr. Othman is considered as a dangerous terrorist is not relevant to the issues raised by the appeal and that the standard to be met in order to prevent deportation of foreigners to face trial in the courts of another country has been set very high by the European Court of Human Rights. The Court is satisfied that SIAC did not commit any legal errors when reaching its conclusions. Consequently, the appeal of the Home Department is dismissed. The judgment can still be further appealed.

Read the full text of the judgment here.

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