CASE: European Court of Human Rights Blocks Deportatio
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR) today handed down its judgment in the case of Othman v United Kingdom (2012), ruling that the UK cannot deport Omar Othman (Abu Qatada) to Jordan. Although diplomatic assurances between the two countries could ensure his safety from torture on return in principle (and thus not breaching the absolute ban on torture in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – ECHR), the court held that there would be a likely breach of his right to a fair trial there (under Article 6 ECHR) due to a real risk of the use of evidence obtained through torture. This is the first time that the court has held that a deportation or expulsion would be a violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) based on the international consensus that evidence obtained through torture is inadmissible.
Mr Othman had previously lost his case at SIAC. The judgment in this case has taken over three years to be made. The judgment is not final and the Home Secretary has three months to appeal before it is binding. Theresa May is said to be “disappointed” by the judgment. Mr Othman will remain in prison until the Home Office has decided what action it will take. The impact this will have on others also facing deportation on national security grounds on the basis of memoranda of understanding with regimes that are known to torture is unclear. The Home Office has again reiterated its determination to pursue this policy. In view of revelations made over the past year of British collusion with regimes in the Middle East in particular, through documents and evidence brought to light by the “Arab Spring”, the reliability and credibility of such memoranda should be all the more questionable.
The full judgment can be read at (with a summary of the case over the past ten years):
ECtHR Press Release on the judgment:
Statements by parties intervening in the case:
A useful summary of the case:
Comment by Amnesty International UK:
From the press: