European Court Blocks Deportation of Terrorism Suspect and Rejects Evidence Obtained by Torture

In Othman (Abu Qatada) v. the United Kingdom (Application no. 8139/09), on 17 January 2012, the European Court of Human Rights held that the UK could not lawfully deport Abu Qatada, a Jordanian national, to his country, overturning a previous decision by the House of Lords. The European Court considered the legal question of whether a state bound by the obligations in the European Convention on Human Rights is required not to deport an individual to a country not bound by the Convention, if that country could potentially violate the standards found in Article 6 on the right to a fair trial. Abu Qatada was convicted in absentia twice in Jordan as a suspect for terrorist activities, the evidence for which he claims was extracted through torture. Although a diplomatic Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Jordan acted as an assurance that torture methods would not be used to extract evidence, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and JUSTICE submitted a joint intervention to the ECtHR substantiating the prevalence of torture in Jordan. The ECtHR applied a “flagrant denial of justice test” to conclude that Abu Qatada would not receive a fair trial if evidence obtained by torture was used against him, according to Article 6 of the Convention, and thereby blocked the UK’s previous decision to deport him.



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