GOVERNMENTS around the world will be watching the House of Lords proceedings on 29-31 October which will determine whether they can rely on United Nations authority or involvement to escape legal liability for human rights abuses during military engagement.
The UK government will argue that the language of UN Security Council Resolution 1546 permits indefinite internment of Iraqi nationals without Britain’s legal responsibility.
The government will also argue that UK forces in post-conflict Iraq are under UN (not UK) control and beyond the reach of UK human rights standards.
Liberty will argue that responsibility for British forces has not been ceded to the UN and therefore our legal standards apply to detainees in British custody.
The right to a fair trial was not displaced or modified by UNSCR 1546, which suggested indefinite detention of suspects in Iraq in 2004.
Alex Gask, Liberty’s Legal Officer who intervened in the case, said: ‘The United Nations was always designed to preserve peace, law and human rights in the world.
‘It would be ironic if British and other forces could wave its flag to avoid liability for human rights abuses.’
The case is being brought on behalf of Mr Al-Jedda, an Iraqi-British dual national with four British children, who has been held by UK forces in Iraq for three years without charge or trial, after he returned to Iraq in 2004 to visit relatives.
Hilal Abdul-Razzaq Ali Al Jedda v the Secretary of State for Defence will be heard by the Law Lords on 29 – 31 October 2007.
This case follows the July 2007 House of Lords decision in Al-Skeini v Secretary of State for Defence, in which the Law Lords found that the protections within the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights apply to anyone held in British custody, even overseas.
Mr Al-Jedda was born in Iraq in May 1957 and is now 48 years old.
He moved to this country with his first wife in 1992. He made a claim for asylum and was granted indefinite leave to remain.
He was subsequently granted British nationality.
He says that he decided to travel to Iraq in September 2004 in order to try to obtain British visas for his wives and to introduce his four British children to their Iraqi relatives.
Mr Al Jedda’s evidence is to the effect that on 10th October, while he was visiting his sister, US troops accompanied by Iraqi national guards surrounded and entered his parents’ house, searching for him.
They then moved on to his sister’s house, where they found him and arrested him.
The evidence on behalf of the Secretary of State is that the arrest was affected by UK troops as part of an operation undertaken by UK troops. The reason for his arrest and detention was that he was suspected of membership of a terrorist group.
He maintains that he has not been involved in any terrorist activities.
Mr Al-Jedda seeks to secure both his release from detention in Iraq and his return to this country.
He says that he will undertake to co-operate with a voluntary return, notwithstanding that he recognises that if he does return he may be liable to prosecution under the Terrorism Act 2000 or to stringent measures of control under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.
• Second news story
PUTIN WARNS OVER IRAN SANCTIONS
RUSSIA’S President Vladimir Putin issued a new warning to the imperialist powers as he arrived in Portugal yesterday, ahead of a summit with EU leaders.
Putin condemned the imposition of more US sanctions on Iran, likening supporters of ‘tough policies’ on Iran to ‘mad people wielding razor blades’.
He also called for ‘patience’ on Kosovo’s future. Russia is opposed to the NATO proposal to declare Kosovo an independent state, detaching it from Serbia.
A senior American diplomat has lashed out at Russia and China, who are refusing to support the war drive against Iran.
US Assistant Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said Russia should stop selling weapons to Iran and China should stop investing in the country.
‘They’re now the number one trade partner with Iran.
‘It’s very difficult for countries to say we’re striking out on our own when they’ve got their own policies on the military side, aiding and abetting the Iranian government in strengthening its own military,’ Burns said yesterday.
Burns continued that despite differences with both Russia and China the US still hoped that the UN Security Council would approve a third resolution imposing new sanctions this November.
Russia and China are threatening to veto this third resolution.