David Barrett, Telegraph (London), September 15, 2013
Ministers are facing a fresh challenge on human rights grounds to their ability to deport foreign criminals.
They have been asked by European human rights judges to justify plans to return a convicted murderer to Bangladesh where he claims prison conditions are so poor his rights would be breached.
The move opens a new front in the row over the use of human rights by foreign criminals to defy attempts to have them removed.
It is the first time the Government has been asked by the court to justify deporting a foreign criminal on such a claim.
The case involves a Buddhist monk convicted in his absence of killing a man in Bangladesh.
The alleged killer, who can only be identified by the initials “SU” for legal reasons, came here as an asylum seeker and says he is innocent of the 2004 killing.
His appeal hinges on a claim that returning him to his homeland would amount to ill-treatment under Article Three of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
If his human rights claim is successful it could lead to more cases of foreign criminals claiming they cannot be deported to serve sentences in developing countries.
Last night, David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, said the case was “ludicrous”.
“I’m sure the prison conditions in Bangladesh are pretty poor but that is not the fault of the British taxpayer,” he said.
SU’s legal challenge has already passed the first stage in Strasbourg.
Court papers say he failed to surrender himself to a police station in Bangladesh and instead he fled to Dhaka.
He came to Britain in 2005 and two years later his lawyers informed him he had been convicted of murder in his absence and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment.
The monk, who now lives in Sheffield, claimed asylum in 2010 but the Home Secretary rejected the case because of the delay in submitting the application.
British immigration judges backed the decision, and said the sentence he had received was lawful and did not amount to “any form of ill-treatment”.
SU’s lawyers lodged a further series of appeals to the immigration courts and to the Court of Appeal, which declined to hear the case.
In the paperwork to Strasbourg, they point out that British officials have previously warned that conditions in Bangladeshi prisons may breach Article 3 “in some cases”.
The Foreign Office must respond on behalf of the Home Office and the court will then consider whether to order a full hearing.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We will take all action to remove those who have no right to be in this country.”