A Libyan couple are in court in Britain Monday to find out if they can claim damages from the government there, who, they claim, were involved in their illegal deportation back to Libya, where they suffered torture under the Muammar Gaddhafi regime.
The British Court of Appeal will hear from Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a former commander in opposition to Gaddhafi's regime before it was toppled, and his wife, represented and supported by Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, JUSTICE and REDRESS.
The couple claim that “British officials were involved in their abduction and illegal transfer to Libya, under the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) rendition programme, in 2004,” according to the REDRESS press release.
The main defendant named in the case is former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who, it is alleged, was complicit in the abduction of Mr. and Mrs. Behadj by United States C.I.A. agents in Thailand in 2004 and the illegal transfer to Libya with the involvement of British spies.
Jack Straw will not comment on the case.
Court documents describe the torture, including beatings of Belhaj and his pregnant wife, as well as trauma caused to their children, once they were returned to Libya following help from the U.K.'s MI6 and the C.I.A.
An original claim was rejected in December 2013 due to the "act of state doctrine," which disregarded the claims as other countries are implicated in the case. Andrea Coomber, Director of JUSTICE, calls this the “they did it too” defense, which she points out “hasn’t worked in the playground. Yet, this case would...enshrine it in common law.”
Coomber worries that if this appeal is rejected the decision will “fundamentally undercut the international rule of law and undermine the global commitment to remedies for victims of human rights violations.”
The press release by REDRESS, a not-for-profit that represents torture victims, asks the Court of Appeal to “be mindful of the jurisprudence of other countries, where courts have found ways to judge the behaviour of domestic actors, even when they have acted in concert with foreign officials.”
The Reuters report on the story says that Belhadj was handed back to Libyan officials “because at the time Britain and the United States were keen to build relations with Gaddafi.”
Amnesty representative John Dalhuisen says “Victims of torture and ill-treatment have a right to seek a remedy. It is time for the UK government to stop hiding behind misguided and expansive legal theories and allow the claimants their day in court.”
teleSUR-REDRESS-REUTERS-The Guardian / gp-CS