May hopes Jordan treaty will 'allow' UK to deport Abu Qatada

Apr 24, 2013

Home Secretary confirms government is also considering temporary withdrawal from ECHR

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HOME SECRETARY Theresa May has announced a new treaty with Jordan she believes will "deliver legal protections" allowing the deportation of the radical cleric and terrorism suspect, Abu Qatada.

Speaking in the Commons this afternoon, May said the treaty, which has yet to be ratified, will include "guarantees on fair trials". She admitted that even after the agreement is fully ratified, Qatada will still be able to launch a legal appeal against his deportation, the BBC reports.

The UK wants to send Qatada to Jordan where he faces retrial on terrorism-related charges. But efforts to deport him have been thwarted by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which ruled last year that he should not be removed from the UK because his retrial could be tainted by evidence obtained by torturing the cleric's former co-defendants.

May insisted today the government will continue to do everything it can to make sure Qatada is deported. But she is under increasing pressure over the issue, following the announcement yesterday that the Court of Appeal had turned down her attempt to take the cleric’s case to the Supreme Court.

In the Commons today she asked whether Labour will work on a cross-party agreement on taking out "layers of appeals" in deportation cases, to speed them up.

Asked to comment on rumours that the government is "examining the possibility" of withdrawing temporarily from the European Convention on Human Rights to allow the deportation of the cleric, May said it was her view that we need to "fix that relationship". She said David Cameron is exploring all the options, including temporary withdrawal, and it is "sensible" to have "all options on the table".

The Guardian points out that a withdrawal from the ECHR would not be supported by the Liberal Democrats. To implement it, the Conservatives would need to win a majority in the 2015 general election and no longer have to govern as part of a coalition.

Qatada, who featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the 9/11 bombers, has thwarted every attempt by the government to put him on a plane, says The Independent. A resident in the UK since September 1993, Qatada was returned to jail last month after he was arrested for alleged bail breaches.

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