To deport, or to be blown up: that is the question
Abid Naseer is a Pakistani national and al-Qaeda operative who is suspected of planning an atrocity in the UK. The evidence was presented in court and the presiding judge so determined. The Special Immigration and Appeals Commission said it was 'satisfied that Naseer was an al-Qaeda operative who posed and still poses a serious threat to the national security of the United Kingdom and that…it is conducive to the public good that he should be deported'.
You might think this would be sufficient.
Yet he has said that he would be tortured if he were to return to Pakistan.
And so, under international treaty obligations and in accordance with the Human Rights Act, he cannot be deported, for that would render Her Majesty’s Government complicit in torture.
And we can’t be having that, can we?
So, here we have the British Government impotent in the forcible repatriation of a Pakistani national to a member state of the British Commonwealth.
If the Pakistani government is not able to give adequate assurances that they would not torture or ill treat Mr Naseer, on what basis do they continue to be a member of the Commonwealth?
It beggars belief that an Al Qaeda operative should be able to assert his ‘human rights’ and continue to reside in the UK when this is the very terrorist organisation which is threatening an Olympic spectacular in 2012, or a few special fireworks for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
Home Secretary Theresa May is not appealing the decision. She has said she finds it ‘disappointing’.
Iain Dale prefers to call it ‘bloody terrifying’.
Dr Richard North is even more scathing.
Mr Dale said: “I helped elect a new government to pass laws to stop this sort of thing happening. I don't want to hear from ministers that it is ‘disappointing’. I want to hear what they intend to do about it.”
There was a time when the Conservative Party was intent on dispensing with the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights. In fact, it was a manifesto pledge.
But this must have been an early victim of the Con-Lib Coalition.
And since Dominic Grieve is now the Attorney General, he would doubtless resign if the Act were repealed in any case. For it is not the Act which is at fault, he has averred, but the judiciary's consistent misinterpretation and application of it.
It ought to be the primary duty of a government to protect its citizens. It has a moral obligation to prioritise issues of national security, public safety and the economic well-being of a country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The Human Rights Act upholds all of that.
MI5 has maintained that the men, all students from Pakistan, were 'members of a UK based network linked to al-Qaeda involved in attack planning'.
Yet we cannot deport them.
Mr Cameron, do we not still need a British Bill of Rights to clarify the matter?