And so, once again, the judges are in the dock for insisting that due process be followed even when, as in the case of Abu Qatada, it is inconvenient to do so. On the face of it, the decision to thwart Qatada’s deportation to Jordan seems unreasonable. But the truth is that few of us are in any position to judge the worth of the Jordanian government’s assurances that none of the evidence used against Qatada will have been tainted by torture. It may be that, as the ECHR ruled, those assurances are credible (and if so, that’s in part thanks to the work of bodies such as the ECHR) or it may be that, as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission has determined, they are not.
The bigger problem, really, is one I wrote about in February:
Jordan may not be Saudi Arabia or Iran but it is not Canada or Finland either. Freedom House are quite clear on this: Jordan is in the “Not Free” camp. Is this the kind of country to which we should be deporting anyone, even those of whom we may have good reason to disapprove?
And there is this: either the UK government disapproves of torture or it is happy to disapprove of it in some countries while tolerating and perhaps even tacitly encouraging it in others. Though deporting Qatada to Jordon would dispose of the problem of what to do with him it also makes the British government an accomplice to the activities of the Jordanian security apparatus. It encourages the use of torture in other cases for the Jordanian authorities – or those in other countries where comparable cases may arise – will discover that though western governments deplore their brutality publicly they are happy to take advantage of it when it proves convenient to do so.