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					PRESS RELEASE 12 MAY 14.30.00h – FOR IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

AFGHAN DECISION: GOVERNMENT SETS ITSELF ABOVE THE RULE OF LAW.

In 2004 the government argued that the men could be safely returned to Afghanistan. They lost.
They did not challenge the decision at the time. Instead, they ignored it. Now the courts have told
the government that they are not above the law: they cannot with impunity ignore a court judgment
they did not challenge. In this respect, the government is in the same boat as the rest of us. The
government’s reaction to this has been to lash out at individual judges, a reaction that has no place
in a democratic society that respects the rule of law.

This week’s case was not about whether the men were guilty of hijacking nor about whether they
should be allowed to remain in the UK. Those matters were decided years ago. The case was about
the government’s failure to give effect to the judgment by failing to regularise the men’s
immigration status in the UK., not attempting to remove them but leaving in them in limbo.

The criminal conviction of these men for hi-jacking was overturned in 2003. By the time this
happened, seven of the men had served their full sentence and two had nearly done so. They had
already served the criminal sentence for hijacking although as a result of their appeal they had not
been found guilty of it. To refer to them as criminals or terrorists is inaccurate. Nonetheless, the
men were found to be excluded from the Refugee Convention because of their actions. The reason
that the men remain in the country is that it was found that on return they would face a real risk of
torture or other inhuman and degrading treatment.

In this week’s case the Home Office’s conduct of the litigation was so far below what is acceptable
from any party before the UK courts that the judge used special powers to punish them for their
behaviour. He said “It is difficult to conceive of a clearer case of conspicuous unfairness
amounting to an abuse of power”. It is our money that they wasted, and our courts that they
mocked. Many may wish to reflect on whether they want to cheer on the Prime Minister and the
Home Secretary for this behaviour.


-ILPA 12 MAY 2006-

Notes for Editors

   1. The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association ILPA is a professional association with some
       1200 members, who are barristers, solicitors and advocates practising in all aspects of immigration,
       asylum and nationality law. Academics, non-government organisations and others working in this
       field are also members. ILPA exists to promote and improve the giving of advice on immigration and
       asylum, through teaching, provision of high quality resources and information. ILPA is represented
       on numerous government and appellate authority stakeholder and advisory groups.

   2. For further information please get in touch with the ILPA office on info@ilpa.org.uk
      or0207251 83 83 or 0207 490 1553