Thursday, December 16, 2010

Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, the Human Rights Act - and Natural Justice

The case of Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, the Iraqi Kurd who has been given permission to stay in the UK despite having fatally hit 11 year old Amy Houston and failing to stop after the accident, is going to cause a lot of anger.

Serious anger. The EDL is going to try to make political capital out of this. It could cause an increase in inter-communal violence.

Also, some papers will use it to undermine the Human Rights Act.

As a campaigner for the Global Index of Human Rights I care very much about implementing human rights worldwide. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up immediately at the end of WWII, when the United Nations had finally won the terrible struggle against Fascism, and is a great standard to rally round, and the human rights that they set out should be used as a measuring rod for all governments.

In fact the legal judgment was arrived under the Human Rights Act 1998, Article 8 which reads:

Article 8 Right to respect for private and family life

1 Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2 There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

This article is essentially about privacy and the individual's power within his personal and family life. It is ironic that the Metropolitan Police have seemingly allowed the News of the World to breach this article with impunity.

It seems perverse to use a text that is about the privacy of non-convicts to obstruct the legal process of the Borders Agency were following - assuming, of course, that they were doing that. I am no fan of the Borders Agency, who have many murky questions to answer, but in this case, on the facts available, it seems that they were going with the flow of natural justice, and were foiled by what is maybe a legal technicality working within a poor philosophical framework.

The key point is that if I commit a crime, I put my human rights at risk - namely, my right to freedom and family life. The right to freedom is suspended while I am arrested and imprisoned. However, other rights, notably the right not to be tortured or treated in a cruel, inhumane and unusual way, remain in place, rightly. Ironically,the USA breaching this article in the way it is treating Bradley Manning, the soldier who is allegedly the source  of the current Wikileaks.

The British assumptions about the case is that having served his time (an absurdly brief two months), Aso has repaid his debt to society, and the law has no further hold on him. Apart from his other offences.

The assumption arises from the idea of a time tariff for crimes. So much crime, so much time, off you go, account wiped clean.  This is a very narrow view. Crimes are committed against other people. The trauma of their loss for the Houston's did not end when Aso was released; indeed it was increased. Is against natural law for people who have been affected to the core of their lives to see the other party living without any consequences.

There is a case to me made that people who have behaved like Aso should be deported. It would be an appropriate penalty for his actions, even though it will present his family with a harsh decision regarding whether to stay in the UK, go to Iraq, or divide their time in some way. 

The idea that may cause dismay to some who believe that no-one should ever be deported. Please feel free to use the Comment slot to inform and educate me in matter of which I am ignorant.  I would love to be proven wrong, but my gut feeling is that this is not a left-right, black-white  issue, but one where natural justice is crying out to be done, and the Law has tripped over its ermine gown and is lying in the gutter with its buckled shoes kicking in the air.

In the end, Human Rights are founded on natural justice. If the Law creates a tension between Human Rights and natural justice, then the law has somewhere failed.


Anonymous said...

Why should he be treated differently from a 'born in the uk' chav who commits an identical offence ?

Both would serve the same prison sentence. Inadequate I agree.

But if you deport him, you cause great disruption or damage to his British family.

DocRichard said...

You ask "Why should he be treated differently from a 'born in the uk' chav who commits an identical offence?"
The answer: because, to the best of our knowlege, he is an illegal immigrant. He is not a British citizen.

I agree his deportation will cause disruption to his family. But as I wrote above, they can decide to go to Iraq with him; or to stay here, and see him from time to time. Yes, this causes suffering to his family; but this must be balanced with the suffering of the family of Amy Houston. Judges routinely have to balance such factors. In this case, it is clear that the judges, or perhaps the law available to the judges, got it wrong.

Anonymous said...

so sorry the land in which l was born has let the Houston family down there will be no or any justice until this man is kick out of this country he has no respect for a country thats give new hope and a safe place to sleep at night do the right thing and kick this person out we dont need him he needs us,

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't send anyone back to that retarded basket case of a country, no matter what they've done. Given that we buggered the place up, even more so.

I'd have left Iraq years ago with my family and come here illegally too.

I would have him serve his sentence here and then remain.

DocRichard said...

Hi another Anon

This shows the advantage with signing off with some sort of monicker even if you are using the Anonymous facility, to avoid confusion.

Your point shows the need to address the root causes of immigration, war, dictatorships, poverty and environmental collapse.

A lot of people feel that if you want to live in a certain country, it is a good idea to abide by the rules of that country. To take another person's life is a life sentence for the family, so it is not unfair to face a different sort of life sentence. Prison is useless, and he's done his 2 months. As far as the Law is concerned, that's it. As far as Justice is concerned, that's not it.

axeman said...

Capital Punishment gets round these little problems!

DocRichard said...

Er...Axeman, cpital punishment assumes that judges and the legal process is 100% infallible.

Which they are not.

weggis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
weggis said...

Hey Doc,
No human system is 100% infallible.
But some are more infallible than others!

Sorry, bin reading George Orwell...