A historic victory was won by Corker Binning, an English firm and their client, Mohammed Lodhi when the English High Court quashed the decision of the Home Office to extradite Lodhi to the United Arab Emirates.
In 2000, Lodhi was arrested on an extradition warrant issued by the UAE. In 2002, the UAE provided evidence resulting in the High Court granting extradition of Lodhi. Lodhi petitioned the extradition on human rights grounds, but his petition was rejected and he was ordered to be extradited in 2008. Judicial review of this decision was heard in 2009.
Sadly, shortly after the final hearing in 2009, Lodhi passed away but his family has continued his fight for justice. The High Court determined that even though Lodhi had passed away and the extradition order was a legal impossibility, they would still release their judgment. It’s tragic that Lodhi did not live to see the positive outcome of a long ten year battle for his life.
It was argued on behalf of Lodhi, that the allegations against him were fabricated by his business competition. In the end, the decision was quashed because of the fear Lodhi would have suffered inhuman or degrading treatment and/or torture. The decision was also influenced by the likelihood that Lodhi’s trial would have been prejudiced and that he could have faced arbitrary punishment and/or detainment based on his race and nationality. The Court accepted evidence that the UAE is a state that selectively respects human rights, resulting in harsher treatment for foreigners in prisons. The High Court’s decision is not only a victory for Lodhi, but a victory for human rights.
A solicitor at Corker Binning representing Lodhi stated that it is very rare to win an extradition case on human rights grounds. This is a monumental case for human rights and could affect extradition to countries where torture is practiced.
It is presumed that this is an indication that UK courts will not tolerate torture to the extent that they will not rely on unverifiable assurances from states claiming torture will not occur. However, this is notwithstanding the ratification of the extradition treaty between the UK and UAE in 2008. The treaty allows for both countries to request extradition for persons accused or convicted of any crime. This was concluded despite human rights organisations’ protests against the treaty.
The House of Lords debated the status of the UAE’s criminal justice system and appalling human rights record prior to the signing of the extradition treaty. Lord Bassam promised a review of the allegations of torture against Dubai security services made by Rafat Usmani, a Pakistani national; however, it was never carried out.
In 2009, another torture case made the headlines. Sheikh Issa bin-Zayed Al-Nahyan the son of the late ruler of Dubai was caught on video with other men in uniform torturing a man believed to be an Afghan grain dealer, a former business partner of the Sheikh. The UAE Court first refused to initiate proceedings against the Sheikh stating the matter had been settled privately but was forced to bring forth charges following public condemnation of the blatant disregard for justice and grave human rights violations. The video reveals torture tactics including, electric cattle prods, wooden planks with protruding nails, forcing sand in his mouth, pouring salt in his bleeding wounds and even driving over the Afghani victim. Human Rights Watch has called on the UAE government to investigate the torture suffered by the Afghani man, Mohammed Shah Poor.
At least two other people are known to have been tortured while in custody in the UAE in 2007, according to Amnesty International. Abdullah Sultan al-Subaihat, a UAE national and Rashed Mahmood, a Pakistani national were both beaten severely.
The United Arab Emirates has a poor human rights record. There is arguably widespread torture in prisons and human rights violations throughout the country, with little or no protection. The UK’s stand against extraditing Lodhi based on the fear of grave human rights violations, despite his unfortunate death, is a monumental outcome for the fight against injustice in the UAE.