European Court of Human Rights orders UK to compensate Islamist

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Whilst I am very disappointed with any award, I recognise the Court has made substantially lower awards than these men sought in view of the fact these measures were devised in the face of a public emergency.

—Jacqui Smith, British home secretary

The European Court of Human Rights has awarded 2500 to Abu Qatada, an Islamic militant and cleric, in a lawsuit he filed against the United Kingdom which detained him without trial in 2002.

Qatada, who is facing extradition to Jordan to serve a life sentence for terrorism charges, and 10 others were detained under Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. This act allowed foreign nationals suspected of terrorism to be detained, before being repealed in 2004 due to its discriminatory nature. The ECHR's ruling determined the decision to detain Qatada under this law breached the 'right to liberty and security' secured in the European Convention of Human Rights.

The British government claimed they believed the people detained were "a threat to our national security."

Some British politicians also objected to paying compensation to people believed to be terrorists.

Matthew Elliot, a lobbyist for the Taxpayers' Alliance, argued: "This man hates everything Britain stands for, so it is disgusting that ordinary taxpayers are now forced to pay him thousands of pounds."

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary commented: "This decision will horrify most reasonable people in the UK … it makes a mockery of the concept of human rights if we can't protect ourselves against people who are out to destroy our society."