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Attempted extradition of Edinburgh bus driver highlights need for UK to suspend treaty with UAE

Blog post   •   Sep 05, 2017 11:06 BST

Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where Garnett Black's fate will be decided

Garnett Black, a family man, had been in business with an Emirati in Dubai. The Emirati was also his son in law. and had reportedly begun drinking heavily and acting abusively. His wife, Mr Black's daughter, decided to leave the UAE permanently with their daughter and return to Scotland. The Emirati husband wanted to exert influence over the family in order to force his wife to return to the Emirates with their daughter and so allegedly fabricated criminal "breach of trust" charges against Mr Black. If Mr Black were extradited, surely the wife would surrender herself to prevent her father's imprisonment.

David and I flew in for attendance on Monday, expecting reasonably speedy proceedings. While Westminster Magistrates Court in London has streamlined extradition requests from the UAE, Black's was a first in Scotland from the UAE and a full trial was in order.

Both David and I spent several days giving evidence from Monday to Thursday. I was examined for approximately 9 hours, showing just how thorough proceedings were.

While giving evidence, I was unable to speak with Mr Black but could see that he was anxious and had a lot that he wanted to tell me; I look forward to hearing it. He is more than happy to talk about his case publicly, now that proceedings are complete.

Given that we have a High Court precedent that denies extraditions to the UAE on the basis of human rights risks and a number of lower court rulings which have followed the same, I expect Scotland will rule in favour of Mr Black by denying the extradition request.

While in Scotland, David and I were interviewed by the BBC on extraditions, the Treaty and human rights violations in the UAE. The interviews will be broadcast when the judgement is issued. Reporters and camera crew at the BBC were astonished that the treaty is still in existence, costing the taxpayer millions per year by allowing the UAE to use our legal resources.

The Prosecutor acting on behalf of the UAE, at UK taxpayer's cost, attempted to rely upon a prison report from Lord Ramsbotham who allegedly visited a UAE detention facility in 2011. This was the first time I had seen the report as it hadn't been admitted into previous extradition trials but it read more like a five star hotel review, with the "best" of everything... medical care, education, fine cuisine, cleanliness and even live plants throughout. Of course, none of this is reflective of the reality of prisons in the UAE and we are keen to speak with Lord Ramsbotham about this report, which the complete opposite to what thousands of UAE prisoners have described. Of course, the Lord had no control over what he was shown when he visited and we are looking forward to investigating this report further.

After days of interrogation and cross examination, I can only say that I am disappointed that the UK government has not suspended its Treaty of its own accord. It is almost "a given" that the UK will deny extraditions because of the very real risk of human rights violations and unfair trials. Why, therefore, does the UK government allow them to use our public funds on frivolous requests? Why do they allow their own citizens to be subjected to the incredible stress that they endure when they are at risk of being sent to a desert jail where British Citizens have died after being beaten, when others have been brutally assaulted and electrocuted. The answer was provided to me by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office a number of years ago; "The UK government has a vested interests in maintaining good relations with the UAE, the UK's strongest middle eastern ally". The Government has prioritised diplomatic relations with the UAE over the rights of their citizens. David and I intend to raise this issue with the UK government with a view to seeking a suspension of the Treaty.

Both David and I are pleased that we could assist in defending Mr Black against extradition to the UAE and wish that we had enjoyed more time in Edinburgh. We look forward to the full Judgement

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