Detained in Dubai applauded Scotland’s decision today to refuse extradition of their client Garrett Black to the United Arab Emirates, following the organisation’s involvement in the case.
Garrett Black, a bus driver from Edinburgh, found himself fighting an extradition request in front of the Edinburgh Sheriff Court when charges of breach of trust were brought against him by his former UAE son in law, apparently as a result of a domestic dispute with Garrett’s daughter.
Black had been in business with his Emirati son in law in Dubai. The Emirati had reportedly been drinking heavily and acting abusively towards Garrett’s daughter. Eventually she decided to leave the UAE permanently with their child and return to Scotland. The Emirati husband reportedly wanted to force his wife to return to the UAE with their child, and so allegedly fabricated criminal "breach of trust" charges against Garrett, in order to hold influence over the family.
The UAE reported the case to Interpol and extradition was sought, making it the first ever extradition request to Scotland by the Emirates. The Edinburgh Sheriff Court considered testimony by Radha Stirling and David Haigh, experts on UAE legal issues, in which they detailed the high risk of human rights abuse and the endemic flaws in the UAE justice system. The court has decided that Garrett should not be sent to the UAE.
Stirling, CEO of legal advisory Detained in Dubai and her Stirling Haigh partner, David Haigh have been instrumental in informing UK and other European courts about the conditions in the UAE which preclude the legal acceptability of extradition.
Both relieved by the judgement, but frustrated by the process, Garrett said in a statement, “this has been a complete waste of time and a total nightmare. My livelihood has suffered and we, as a family have felt threatened and unsure about the future throughout all of this. I don’t know why the UAE bother even trying to start these cases, they do nothing but cause misery.
“I have had to go through 12 hearings to get to this stage and the result should have been a foregone conclusion from the beginning. The UK courts never extradite to the UAE, everyone knows this. Why do the UK courts still accept these requests? My life has been so damaged because of this. Now me and my family just want to rebuild our lives and carry on.”
Usually extradition is sought from the UK and other European courts in relation to hardened criminals and people who are a real threat to society. Most countries would save such a drastic court action to pursue the likes of international terrorists or members of organised crime syndicates.
Stirling, commented, “despite repeated failed attempts, the UAE continues issuing extradition requests to UK courts who keep entertaining them; despite the fact that every court in the UK has consistently ruled that the UAE legal system is unfit for extradition. Today, Scotland has joined the unanimous consensus of the rest of the British judicial system in recognising that the United Arab Emirates extradition requests do not warrant consideration.”
In their testimony, Stirling and Haigh explained to the Sheriff Court the failure of the UAE legal system to meet international standards, and narrated the many accounts of abuse and torture suffered by not only Detained in Dubai clients, but by David Haigh himself during his own detention in the country. Stirling has appeared as an expert witness in numerous cases like Garrett’s, and her testimony is drawn from nearly a decade of working with expats entangled in the UAE legal system.
She notes that there are two main reasons why UAE extradition requests are rejected; firstly “because the court has to find what is called ‘dual criminality’, which means that the allegation must be defined as a crime in the UK, not only in the UAE. Since most extradition requests by the Emirates pertain to often frivolous matters, there is almost never ‘dual criminality.
“Secondly, the UK will not extradite anyone to a country where their human rights might be abused. Human rights violations have been thoroughly documented in the UAE, including the use torture, thus, no UK court will agree to extradite British citizens to the Emirates unless and until these abuses end”.
Both Stirling and Haigh have suggested that the UK’s extradition treaty with the UAE should be suspended.
Stirling says, “The UK High Court has instituted a precedent that prevents extradition if there is a risk that the requested party will be subject to human rights violations and unfair trials. Since then, lower courts have followed that precedent and ruled against all subsequent requests, but still the requests are taken seriously, costing the UK taxpayer literally millions of pounds every year.”
David Haigh adds that, “Stirling Haigh and Detained in Dubai believe it irresponsible to allow proceedings in any cases where the outcome is predetermined and that incur such great expense to the UK public. The enormous financial cost to the UK taxpayer and the waste of the court’s time are the real crimes here.
“In many of these extradition cases, the requested party has been falsely accused of a crime and the extradition request is being used as a tool for revenge. In the case of Garrett Black, the request came from a disgruntled family member with a grudge. The requests are not for cases involving serious or violent crime and should be dealt with by local civil courts in the UAE.”
Ms Stirling adds that despite repeated requests from UK legal professionals the practice continues to be encouraged, “If the UK continues to allow extradition requests, it is sending a clear message to the UAE that they are prioritising diplomatic relations over protecting the rights of their own citizens. A suspension of the treaty would not only encourage the UAE to invest in human rights improvements, but would free up much needed UK taxpayer funds and prevent the further legal abuse of UK citizens.”
Radha Stirling. Pleased with the result.
Stirling continues, “the High Court of England has implemented a precedent that prevents extradition if there is a risk that the requested party will be subject to human rights violations and unfair trials. Since then, lower courts have consistently followed that precedent and refused every extradition request. However the requests are all processed, costing the UK taxpayer literally millions of pounds every year.”