The Human Rights of Hijackers

by Roger Alford

Ok, this is a really bizarre story. As reported here, “Nine Afghan asylum seekers who hijacked a plane at gunpoint to get to Britain should have been admitted to the country as genuine refugees and allowed to live and work here freely, the High Court ruled yesterday. In a decision that astonished and dismayed MPs, the Home Office was accused of abusing its powers by failing to give the nine formal permission to enter Britain, in breach of their human rights.”

An editorial in the Daily Telegraph lamenting the judgment and questioning Britain’s continued membership in the European Convention on Human Rights is here.

10 Responses

  1. This has been well covered by bloggers in the UK, and it might be helpful to link to some, including those with specialist criminal law knowledge, like Tony Hatfield, or Brian Barder, with a civil service background. It’s not really an odd story, but it is tied to a bigger political picture about attacks on the HRA 1998 which is getting a lot of coverage in the UK, and much disturbs those of us with a liberal bent.

  2. Good idea. Plenty more news coverage available here and blog commentary here.

  3. Interesting. It seems the case turned on the absence of statutory authorization for the government action rather than the HRA or ECHR as such. I still haven’t been able to figure out how the HRA figured into the parole board’s decision. Any leads or ideas?

  4. Are you talking about the Afghans or the case of Anthony Rice, the released rapist who murdered someone? I presume the latter, because I didn’t think the Parole Board was involved in the former case. You might want to read Unity at the Ministry of Truth. The second part of the post contains a very detailed analysis of the Anthony Rice case. The trouble with using the technorati search is that it is obviously unselective as to the quality of the posts on these topics. And with something that is pretty technical, it is important to be selective.

  5. Tony Hatfield’s report seems to suggest, certainly to me, that the Daily Telegraph (a.k.a. the Daily Torygraph, after the Conservative or Tory party), although a broadsheet newspaper, cannot be trusted on human rights reporting.

  6. In both cases HRA 1998 is of limited importance.

    In the case of the Stansted Nine, it is true that HRA does prevent them being deported to Afghanistan, although this only serves to uphold the principle that you don’t deport people in circumstances where there is a substantial risk of harm, which has been around a lot longer.

    However the actual ruling from last week had nothing to do with HRA per se, being more a matter of rights in common law and natural justice plus the little matter of the government having unilaterally disregarded a prior High Court ruling.

    The Anthony Rice case was a simple matter of incompetence and maladministration which resulted in a parole board being given incomplete information on which to base their decision as to whether to release him on licence – they were not informed in full of his past offending behaviour, which included offences against children, and were given an over optimistic psychiatric assessment.

    A classic case of garbage in, garbage out.

  7. Thanks, Bondwoman, that link was very helpful. The V for Vendetta-themed banner was a nice touch as well.

  8. “The V for Vendetta-themed banner was a nice touch as well.”

    Am I being dense? I don’t quite folow that comment.

  9. Oh, at the Unity/Ministry of Truth site you sent me to, there’s a big photo of V at the top.

  10. As for the Anthony Rice case – even if the parole board had done their work to the best of their ability, it would still be impossible to avoid every single instance of a new crime being committed by paroled convicts. See in that regard the very interesting Mastromatteo case before the European Court of Human Rights.

    One could also compare the situation of the Afghans with that of the Uighurs of Chinese nationality who were held at Guantanamo, but which the US refused to repatriate to China for fear of torture (the irony is simply delicious, isn’t it?), until they were accepted by Albania.

    Tirana may not be in the tropics, but it is certainly a whole lot better either than Guantanamo or the insides of a Chinese prison. There is nothing stopping the UK to choose a similar solution for the Afghans, but it must find a state willing to accept them, and it cannot repatriate them to any state where there is a substantial risk that they might be tortured.

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