These 140,529 individuals, irrespective of age, religious denomination and political belief, united in a common cause – to end Babar’s 7 years of pre-charge incarceration and prevent his extradition in favour of a UK prosecution.
In spite of the enormous public support for the matter, the Parliamentary Backbench Business Committee has refused to list this issue for a full debate in the main chamber of the House of Commons where it could be voted on by Members of Parliament; instead the motion has been relegated to form part of a pre-existing discussion on extradition, led by Dominic Raab MP, in Westminster Hall on 24th November 2011.
Whilst the FBA Campaign support Mr Raab’s well-founded concerns over UK extradition policy, over 140,500 individuals did not take the time and trouble to add their names to Babar’s petition only for this matter to be debated outside the Chamber rather than put to a vote, on the floor of the House.
Now they have raised their voices – through the correct channel – the FBA Campaign will not rest until they are properly heard. The FBA Campaign vows to make urgent contact with every MP representing each of these 140,529 signatories, to seek their support in securing proper consideration of Babar’s plight and its causes, in the Chamber of the House of Commons. If time cannot be allotted in the parliamentary schedule pre-Christmas, then we will seek early inclusion in the New Year’s parliamentary scheduling.
The family of Babar Ahmad stated:
“We are deeply moved that, in the midst of a recession, more people have shown Parliament their concern over a British citizen being detained for over seven years without charge or trial, than lowering fuel prices. They deserve nothing less than to have their concerns properly debated and put to a vote.”
“Other e-petitions which have secured over 100,000 signatures have been debated in the main chamber of the House of Commons. The decision to treat this e-petition differently is a slap in the face of over 140,500 people who demanded that Babar be put on trial in the UK.”
“Now that it is clear that the call to put Babar on trial in the UK has not just cross-party backing but also enormous public support, we believe the correct forum for debate is the main chamber of the House of Commons, where the matter can be subjected to a vote.”
Notes to Editor:
1. The e-petition can be viewed at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/885 .
2. A complete timeline of Babar Ahmad’s case from the moment he was arrested on 2 December 2003 can be viewed at http://www.freebabarahmad.com/the-story/timeline.
3. On 1 November 2011, Mr. Dominic Raab MP, requested a full Commons debate on extradition. His motion had cross-party support in addition to the backing of the respective chairs of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr. Raab referred to the fact that at that point, over 70,000 people had signed the petition to put Babar Ahmad on trial in the UK. The Committee rejected Mr. Raab’s request in favour of a request for a debate on cheaper fuel on the basis that over 100,000 people had signed an e-petition calling for it. Over 30,000 more people have now signed the e-petition for Babar Ahmad than that for cheaper fuel.
4. Babar Ahmad is the UK's longest detained-without-charge British Citizen having been in prison since 05 August 2004 (over 7 years). He is held under the UK's controversial Extradition Act 2003 which allows British Citizens to be extradited to the U.S for alleged offences that took place in Britain. The CPS has repeatedly refused to charge Babar Ahmad in the UK with any criminal offence whatsoever.
5. During his arrest in London in 2003, Babar Ahmad was violently abused by Metropolitan Police Officers. He sustained over 73 injuries. In March 2009, the Metropolitan Police admitted carrying out this abuse and paid him £60,000 compensation. The 4 police officers responsible were later found not guilty of this abuse in June 2011, following a 5 week trial at Southwark Crown Court. At the conclusion of that trial, the Recorder of Westminster, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, said about Babar Ahmad's case, "I express the hope that the ordeal of a man in detention in this country for a number of years without trial is brought to an end as soon as possible...”
6. On 22 June 2011, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights explicitly raised concerns over Babar Ahmad's case in its report in 'The Human Rights Implications of U.K extradition policy' and recommended that the government urgently re-negotiate the UK- US extradition of individuals in Babar Ahmad's position.
7. The Free Babar Ahmad campaign rejects the findings of the Home Office’s review into the UK’s extradition laws which is peculiarly at odds with the findings of the JCHR.
8. Babar Ahmad's final appeal is still being deliberated by the European Court of Human Rights which is to deliver judgment by the end of 2011.
9. Babar Ahmad is represented in his extradition case by Ms Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce & Partners.