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British government to appeal court order allowing Afghan hijackers to remain in UK

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary John Reid [official profile] said Thursday that the government will appeal a Wednesday High Court decision [text] to grant asylum to nine Afghans convicted of hijacking a plane to the UK in 2002, allowing them to remain in the United Kingdom rather than be deported to Afghanistan. Mr. Justice Jeremy Sullivan based his ruling on the Human Rights Act [text] and the 1998 English codification of the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text], which prohibits the government from deporting criminals back to home countries that have a history of torturing criminals. The nine hijackers were found responsible for the February 6, 2000 Stansted Airport hijacking [BBC report] and Sullivan found that the government "deliberately delayed" following a 2004 decision that the hijackers could not be sent to Afghanistan. He said the hijackers could stay in the UK until it was safe for them to return home.

In a statement Thursday, Reid said that an appeal is appropriate when a decision "appear[s] inexplicable or bizarre to the general public." UK Prime Minister Tony Blair [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday called the ruling "an abuse of common sense, and it seems likely to increase growing tension between the British government and judiciary [JURIST report] over rights issues in the war on terror. In a separate case last month, Sullivan ruled that government procedures undertaken to restrain a suspected terrorist under the UK's Prevention of Terrorism Act [text] breached the suspect's human rights [JURIST report]. BBC News has more.

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