Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Paxman, and many others: Sick.

Whilst I'm on the topic of last night's TV: what the fucking fuck is fucking Jeremy Paxman doing pretending not to know the basic facts on the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act 2001?

Recap: this legislation made it possible to deport or lock up foreign nationals on the basis of secret evidence, which did not have to be disclosed to a court or to the detained. Their only legal recourse under ATCSA is to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, SIAC, which hears their cases in camera, the detainee being represented by a special advocate approved by the government. Even he, though, doesn't necessarily get to see the full case.

Now, recently, ATCSA has been used in an attempt to get rid of some people who were originally subject to the iniquitous, no-evidence "control orders" before they were struck down by the courts. Most recently, the alleged spiritual leader of Al-Qa'ida in Europe, Abu Qatada, failed in an appeal to SIAC against his deportation to Jordan.

SIAC ruled, it seems, that because the Jordanians had promised not to torture him, he would be perfectly safe there, and therefore his deportation would be lawful. They promised, see. Not that this protected another man who was deported to Algeria in a similar case, and was promptly locked up despite the fact the Algerians promised not to lock him up. But, apparently, they promised, so that's all right.

We could stop at this juncture to debate whether the fact a powerful actor promised not to do something is any kind of security, especially when that actor is a sovereign state, or whether a judge has any business relying on promises as an argument to trump the law. But we won't. We've had these arguments many, many times already.

But what Jeremy Paxman thinks he is doing in shouting at some chap from Amnesty that "he KNOWS the charges against him! he KNOWS the evidence!", when the whole point of the case is that he DOESN'T and neither does anybody else (did you know that the SIAC judgment is going to appear in two versions, one secret and one public?), well, that goes beyond me.

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