Two British teenagers, Yasemin Vatansever and Yatunde Diya, have been found guilty in Ghana of drug smuggling and face sentencing with a possible maximum of three years in prison. There is no reason to believe justice has not been done in this case, and I hope that we will not be swamped with hypocritical sympathy. If my position surprises you, it is a good time to refer you again to my long article on the subject here:
I have just spoken to Jahongir who is expecting to be deported this evening, so we still have a few hours to try to stop this. An article 39 application to the European Court of Human Rights is being worked on, but not safe at this short notice. Meantime please contact your MP, any media contacts you have, anyone who might help. Both Tom Porteous of Human Rights Watch and myself worked the media yesterday, but to little apparent effect.
One of the many gross aspects of this case is that Jahongir’s case has been “fast tracked” and gone through hearing and appeal to deportation in just a fortnight. His solicitor had less than a week to prepare his appeal – and unfortunately I was in Africa all that week and could not appear as a witness. The judge dismissed requests for a postponement on the grounds she could see no valid reason why witnesses could not get to court. She also dismissed a letter from Uzbek opposition leader Mohammed Salih as not genuine – even though I know for sure it was genuine. This case points up the farce of our asylum system and the cruelty of the “Fast Track” process.
These are Jahongir’s Home Office references:
Home Office ref. ?” S2185191
Port ref. ?” BGT/188094
DMS ref. ?” 67823
Jahongir is currently in Harmondsworth Detention Centre.
Jahongir’s deportation is, beyond any possible dispute, illegal under international law. The UK is a State Party to the UN Convention Against Torture, which states at Article 3:
1. No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.
it is quite impossible to argue, by the standard given, that it is admissible to return Jahongir to Uzbekistan. As a nation we appear to have abandoned all pretence at legality.