|After the decision to extradite Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, the Muslim Council of Britain has written to President Barack Obama to appeal to him and stop the extradition.|
We write to you as citizens of your closest ally, the United Kingdom. Last year, you eloquently spoke in our Parliament about the idea â€śthat all human beings are endowed with certain rights that cannot be denied.â€ť These are the values that bind our two countries together and are the source of much influence for both the United States and the United Kingdom. In your speech, you rightly stated that â€śbeing American or British is not about belonging to a certain group; it's about believing in a certain set of ideals â€“ the rights of individuals and the rule of law.â€ť
Regretfully, we write to you now because those values are threatened as your government persists in seeking the extradition of a number of young British citizens including Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan.
A significant portion of the British public are concerned about British citizens facing trial under a legal system other than that of their own country. The concern led to a recent debate within our Parliament in which Members unanimously voted to review the current extradition laws in order to protect British citizens.
It is true that the UK has entered into a treaty with the US and that she should honour her obligations. However, human rights and legal principles also create obligations which trump those specific obligations created within treaties and must assist in interpreting treaty clauses.
A number of serious violations to Babar and Talhaâ€™s human rights, as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are being made through these extraditions. It is clearly evident how a number of these rights are being violated. Babar and Talha are being denied the basic right to liberty and have been denied this right for a number of years. By having their liberty denied, without them being provided the evidence against them, it is clear that they are being treated as guilty with such a serious violation being made. In the UK, the right to liberty is generally seen as an extremely important right and detention generally is to be justified with evidence at all stages. Babar and Talhaâ€™s rights to family are being violated not only through detention but also through being moved to another country, again without a fair hearing in which the evidence against them is made clear.
Through these extraditions, there are also serious violations being made of established legal principles, namely that of the rule of law. An important tenet of the rule of law is that those being governed under the law know the law which is being applied to them and the rules which they must obey. British citizens, as British citizens, expect to obey UK law and not the law of a country whose governors are not elected by British citizens. To use the tenuous link of a web server being based in the US to extradite a British citizen and apply US law to them seems clearly to be an abuse of extradition laws.
To have to obey the law of another country firstly violates the rule of law, secondly presents a huge burden upon British citizens and thirdly presents a situation whereby citizens are regulated under a law which has evolved under very different historical and cultural contexts. This leads to a very skewed application of the law and will result in seriously unfair and destructive results. A British Businessman, Karl Watkins, therefore felt the need to take the matter into his own hands by commencing a private prosecution of Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan. This was in order for them to be tried within their own country as Mr Watkins was extremely worried by the prospect of British citizens being governed by the law of another country.
Mr President, the allegations against Babar Ahmed and Talha Ahsan are serious. Terrorism is a crime and must be confronted. Yet neither of these men have had a chance to defend the allegations that have been put to them, allegations which the two contest vehemently. We reject extremists who condone terrorism by demonstrating the superiority of our values â€“ we say the rule of law and human rights apply to all people, regardless of faith, race or gender.
Mr President, in 2009, you inspired the Arab and Muslim world by stating what you stood for. You said: â€śI do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice.â€ť
It is time, sir, to put these sentiments into action by ensuring this travesty of justice is reversed. We ask your government to rescind the extradition request and allow justice to be applied in its proper manner, to British citizens through British law, as one would expect US law to be applied to its citizens.
The Muslim Council of Britain