UK citizen must be freed – being held illegally in Iraq by the British army

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Today, the case of a British citizen detained without charge in Basra by UK Forces since 10 October 2004 will be heard in the High Court of Justice at the Strand, central London.

Hilal Abdul-Razzaq Ali Al-Jedda has been held for eight months without charge or trial on suspicion of terrorist activity in Iraq, and is currently imprisoned at Shaibah Divisional Detention Facility, Basra.

Phil Shiner of Al-Jedda’s solicitors, Public Interest Lawyers said: ‘This case has extraordinary importance.

‘On the one hand my client has been illegally detained for over eight months.

‘On the other, if the Government can get away with relying on their own interpretation of a Security Council Resolution the human rights law in these situations goes out the window.’

Mazin Younis, President of the Iraqi League, added: ‘Mr Al-Jedda should be brought back to the UK immediately and either charged after lawful questioning, or released.’

Public Interest Lawyers are seeking a judicial review because if the UK government’s case stands it would set a precedent for other UK citizens to be held without charge or trial.

Public Interest lawyers explained yesterday that the UK Government’s case is that the effect of UN Security Council Resolution 1546 (8 June 2004) is to remove all human rights protection and to authorise a system of indefinite detention without trial.

Al-Jedda’s solicitors add that the UK government goes on to argue that it follows that it is ‘obliged’ not to respect their client’s rights not to be detained without charge, or court review protected by Article 5, European Convention on Human Rights and Article 9, International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.

UN Security Council Resolution 1546 (8 June 2004) declared the occupation of Iraq would end on 30th June 2004, endorsed the formation of a puppet ‘interim government’ and the holding of ‘democratic elections’ by January 2005.

A UN press statement of June 8 2004, said: ‘Among the several provisions concerning the multinational force, the (Security) Council decided that the force should have the authority to “take all necessary measures” to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq in accordance with the letters annexed to the resolution. (Those letters, dated 5 June, are from the Prime Minister of the Interim Government Ayad Allawi and United States Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to the Council President).’

Public Interest Lawyers added: ‘If the UK Government are right it means that an individual member state can unilaterally interpret a UN SC Resolution (and here also an exchange of letters between Mr Allawi, the Iraqi Premier, and the US Secretary of Defence, Colin Powell) to overrule fundamental human rights treaties.

‘By extension of the argument in future it would mean that human rights principles were of secondary importance if a member state decided that it could so interpret a Security Council Resolution.

‘Much more might be authorised during the so-called war on terror.

‘The UK Government accepts that permission for this important test case must be granted, and the full case heard as quickly as possible.

‘Thus, this hearing will decide :

‘1. Whether permission for judicial review should be granted.

‘2. When the full case should be heard.

‘3. Whether Mr Al-Jedda should now be brought back to the UK.’