European Court to Review Conditions of U.S. Imprisonment of Terrorists
Uganda, which killed at least 76 people as they watched the World Cup final, the European Court of Human Rights (the "Court") delayed the United Kingdom's extradition to the United States of four terrorist suspects who are wanted for plotting to set up a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, USA and conspiring to commit international terrorist atrocities.
The Court delayed the extradition so that the UK government and legal counsel for the suspected terrorists can provide evidence that will assist the Court in determining whether the possible post-conviction imprisonment of the suspected terrorists with prolonged periods of isolation in a U.S. federal "supermax" prison, and the application of additional security measures during their imprisonment, might result in a violation of the prohibition against torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the "Convention"). The Court's decision raises serious questions regarding the lack of any clear guidelines or standards relating to the nature and quality of evidence introduced in extradition appeals heard by the Court and the disproportionate influence that non-governmental human rights organizations and United Nations human rights treaty body committees have at the Court.
Beginning in 2005, the UK government agreed to a series of extraditions of the four accused terrorists to be carried out in accordance with the results of extensive negotiations that were memorialized in Diplomatic Notes issued by the U.S. Embassy to the UK government. The Diplomatic Notes contain assurances that the U.S. government will not seek the death penalty against certain of the detainees; that the detainees will be prosecuted in a Federal court with all the rights and protections that would otherwise be provided to a defendant facing similar charges; and that the detainees will not be prosecuted before a military commission. The UK trial court and UK appellate High Court ruled that the extraditions were lawful and would not violate Article 3 and Article 6 of the Convention.
For two reasons, the Court's decision in regards to the admissibility of the complaints is troublesome.
First, in making its decision as to the admissibility of the complaints pertaining to the possible post-conviction incarceration of the suspects, the Court decision did not cite any real evidence supporting the applicants' allegations that prolonged periods of isolation and the imposition of SAMs would negatively impact the mental health of the detainees so severely as to give rise to an Article 3 violation. In reaching its decision to admit the complaints and halt the extradition, the Court relied upon:
2. A copy of the Istanbul statement on the use and effects of solitary confinement, which was adopted at the International Psychological Trauma Symposium in December 2007, for which the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (the "Foundation") served as an organizer. The Istanbul statement concludes that "the central harmful feature of solitary confinement is that it reduces meaningful social contact to a level of social and psychological stimulus that many will experience as insufficient to sustain health and well being." It is important to note that Amnesty International, which, at the time of the 2007 conference, was supporting the application of the four terrorist suspects to the Court, has provided support to the Foundation.
• The Court's micro-management of the UK's bi-lateral arrangements for the extradition of accused terrorists and other accused criminals;
• The Court basing its admissibility decisions on inadequate, irrelevant, or non-existent evidence;
• The Court's lack of clear and objective guidelines regarding the nature and expected quality of evidence introduced to support an applicant's Article 3 complaint;
• The Court's long-standing and close partnership with human rights NGOs and UN treaty body committees with a clear agenda against harsh, though lawful, pre- and post-conviction criminal justice practices; and
• The Court's replacement of the considered judgment of the UK's trial and appellate court judges with the judgment of a small panel of Court human rights experts/judges, most from other European nations, who, while based in Strasbourg, France next to the headquarters of the Council of Europe, are regularly exposed to a culture of anti-American sentiment relating to the methods used by U.S. authorities to investigate, apprehend, convict, and punish some of the world's most dangerous terrorist suspects.
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