British Taliban suspect loses fight over rights

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A British Taliban suspect being held in Camp X-Ray lost his High Court claim yesterday that the Government had failed to protect his rights.

A judge refused to intervene in the case of Feroz Abbasi, saying the domestic court system was "manifestly unsuited" to intervening in international relations and foreign policy.

Mr Abbasi, 22, is one of five Britons being held without charge by the US in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp since being captured by US troops in December after allegedly helping to defend the last Taliban stronghold of Kanduz.

Lawyers acting for him and his mother, Zumrati Juma, a nurse from Croydon, south London, have claimed the Government had failed to act to protect his "fundamental rights under international law".

But Mr Justice Richards refused an application for a judicial review of the Government's role in the affair, saying: "The rights and wrongs of detention of persons at Guantanamo Bay and of the conditions of their detention and of their questioning are not matters for this court."

Louise Christian, Mrs Juma's solicitor, called the judgment "very backward- looking and retrograde". They would consider an appeal.

The court heard that similar High Court challenges were expected on behalf of the other four British detainees.

Edward Fitzgerald QC told the judge Mrs Juma was challenging "certain acts and omissions of the UK Government".

She was seeking a declaration from the court "to ensure that the British Government correctly directs itself as to her son's status and rights in law and takes the appropriate action on his behalf under international conventions".

But after hearing arguments on behalf of the Foreign and Home Offices the judge ruled that international treaties should not be treated as "a source of rights and domestic obligations in domestic law".

He said: "The challenge seeks to involve this court in an area of international relations and foreign policy for which the judicial process is manifestly unsuited."

Mrs Juma has called for British authorities to return her son who, she claims, was wrongly denied prisoner-of-war status, wrongly interrogated by British security services, denied legal representation and his case not taken up under the Geneva Convention.