UK: Judgment Given In Longest Running UK Extradition Case After Death Of Defendant
Last Updated: 26 March 2010

Corker Binning won an historic victory today when the High Court quashed the decision of the Home Office to extradite Mohammed Lodhi to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Court ruled that there was a real risk that, if extradited, Mr Lodhi would have been tortured or suffered inhuman or degrading treatment. The Court also ruled that Mr Lodhi would have been prejudiced at his trial, or punished or detained by reason of his race and nationality.

Mr Lodhi spent 10 years in the UK fighting two extradition requests issued by the Emirate of Dubai, where he had been accused of involvement in drugs manufacturing. These were the first extradition requests made by the UAE to the UK, and the longest running extradition proceedings in English legal history.

Mr Lodhi’s lawyers argued in court that the allegations against Mr Lodhi were fabricated as a result of business rivalries. They said that torture is widespread in the UAE’s prisons and is particularly inflicted on detainees from the Indian sub-continent. The Court accepted that the evidence painted a "picture of a state which respects human rights in a very selective way" and commented that "the general conditions of custody […] encourage harsh treatment especially of foreigners, brutality in punishments, and risk being degrading in themselves".

Mr Lodhi sadly died six weeks after the final court hearing in November 2009. Following a continued legal battle by Mr Lodhi’s family, represented by Edward Fitzgerald QC and Julian Knowles, instructed by Corker Binning, the High Court ruled that judgment should still be given even though the extradition had become academic as a result of Mr Lodhi’s death.

Andrew Smith, Mr Lodhi’s solicitor at Corker Binning, said today: "To win an extradition case on human rights grounds is extremely rare, so I am delighted by the Court’s decision. Mr Lodhi and his family fought long and hard against extradition for over a decade. It is tragic that he did not live to benefit from this judgment, which would have freed him to live a normal life with his wife and five children. The judgment of the court is significant for other cases under the recent extradition treaty between the UK and the UAE as well as other countries where torture is practised. It sends a clear signal not only that the UK courts will not tolerate torture but also that they will not accept unverifiable assurances from foreign states that torture will not take place."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. Mr Lodhi was first arrested in January 2000 on an extradition warrant issued at the behest of the UAE authorities. In March 2001 the High Court ruled there was insufficient evidence against him and the warrant was discharged. The following day the UAE issued a new extradition request containing fresh evidence. In October 2002 the High Court ruled that Mr Lodhi should be extradited. Leave to appeal to the House of Lords was refused in May 2003. Mr Lodhi subsequently petitioned the Home Office to bar his extradition on human rights grounds. The Home Office rejected this petition and ordered his extradition in July 2008. The judicial review of the Home Office’s decision was heard by the High Court in November 2009.
  2. The extradition requests for Mr Lodhi were the first requests made by the UAE to the UK. They were issued under the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
  3. Following the ratification in April 2008 of an extradition treaty between the UK and the UAE, the UAE can now make an extradition request to the UK for a person accused or convicted of any crime (and vice versa). The UAE is one of only two countries in the North Africa/Middle East region which has signed an extradition treaty with the UK. The other is Algeria. Both treaties were signed despite opposition from human rights groups.
  4. The House of Lords debated the UAE’s criminal justice system and human rights record prior to the UAE becoming a formal extradition partner of the UK. During the debate Lord Bassam promised a review into the allegations of torture made by Rafat Usmani, a Pakistani national, against the Dubai security services. The review was never carried out.
  5. The UAE’s record on torture was placed under a spotlight in 2009 following the publication of a videotape showing a number of men in police uniform, as well as Sheikh Issa bin-Zayed Al-Nahyan, son of the late ruler of Abu Dhabi, engaging in a horrifying gangland-style torture session of a man believed to be the Sheikh’s former business partner. The UAE initially refused to bring any charges against the Sheikh and said that the dispute had been "settled privately". Following public condemnation the Sheikh was eventually placed on trial behind closed doors. He was acquitted of all charges in January 2010.
  6. The UAE is one of the few countries in the world to have signed neither the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, nor the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.