Clause 21 - Human rights

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:00 am ar 14 Ionawr 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of John Maples John Maples Ceidwadwyr, Stratford-on-Avon 10:00, 14 Ionawr 2003

On the assumption that we shall not have a clause stand part debate, I shall put some wider issues to the Minister. First, if the clause were not in the Bill, would the individual whose extradition is being sought have these rights in any event? In other words, do these rights apply regardless of the Bill?

Secondly, when we debated clause 13 on extraneous considerations, I suggested that it cast some doubt about whether we could rely on the competence of other judicial systems. Presumably, the extraneous considerations in that clause would be protected by human rights. I therefore wonder why both clause 13 and clause 21 are judged necessary. Indeed, if the rights already exist under the Human Rights Act, which I understand overrides all other legislation, why is either clause necessary?

Thirdly, clause 21 refers to the European convention on human rights. The preamble in paragraph 12 of the framework document deals with the charter of fundamental rights and article 6 of the treaty of European Union. Why are we using one definition in the framework document and another in the Bill? In our debate on clause 13, the Minister referred me to the preamble, which sets out the exact wording. However, the charter of fundamental rights is not the same as the European convention on human rights. Will the Minister help me to understand why some provisions are based on the one, and others on the other?

Finally, as I said when we debated clause 13, if a person already possesses rights under the Human Rights Act, the point falls, but if not, the provision opens a Pandora's box of extraneous defences. I refer once again to the case of Rachid Ramda who has been in jail in the UK fighting extradition to France for serious terrorist allegations, including blowing people up on the Paris metro. The main basis of his defence is that a Muslim cannot secure a fair trial in France. French law allows the evidence of a co-conspirator—or co-defendant who has already been convicted—to be used against another defendant. These arguments have run in the House of Lords and Rachid Ramda has succeeded in maintaining his case for seven years. The House of Lords threw out the Home Secretary's decision on the basis of this reasoning. The Home Secretary now has the matter back on his desk for reconsideration.

I support the Government in wanting to tighten and shorten extradition procedures, particularly for terrorist suspects. Another group of three have been fighting extradition proceedings for years for the 1998 bombings in east Africa. Had they been extradited, it is at least possible that their questioning by American authorities would have prevented further terrorist acts, including, perhaps, the recent one in Mombassa. Such cases—and, worst of all, that of Rachid Ramda—are fought on the grounds that Muslims cannot secure a fair trial in France. If that is true of France, in what European country can they secure a fair trial? If we all

had to take our chances with another country's judicial procedures, I would have thought France, Germany and Sweden would rank fairly high on the list. Some of us have expressed doubts about Greece, Spain and Italy, but surely not France. If the House of Lords seriously believes that a Muslim cannot get a fair trial in Paris, one wonders what this legislation is about.

As I said, my point falls if rights exist under the Human Rights Act, but I am worried about reintroducing into the procedure a series of defences that I understood that the Government wanted to exclude.