MP Roger Godsiff has asked a parliamentary committee of backbenchers to reconsider listing a full debate on the ‘longest-serving’ detainee Babar Ahmad in the Commons’ main chamber. Despite a government e-petition requesting that Babar Ahmad undergo trial in the UK attracting over 140,000 signatures, the Backbench Business Committee instead listed the debate to form part of a pre-existing discussion on extradition, led by Dominic Raab MP, in Westminster Hall on 24th November 2011.
In support of the ‘British justice for British Citizens’ campaign, the Birmingham Hall Green MP insisted that the backbench committee reverse its decision in order to ‘to reassure UK citizens that short cuts are not a growing feature of [the UK] system’.
In a letter to the committee chair, Natascha Engel, Godsiff wrote: “Perception is all and failure to schedule this debate in the Main Chamber whilst scheduling others there further strengthens people’s long held view that UK Governments – in the interests of the ‘special relationship’ – have not been prepared to fight as hard as it might for the rights of UK citizens in the operation of an extradition treaty which many believe is loaded in favour of the USA.
Mr Godsiff continued: “I am sure that you are aware that feelings are running particularly high regarding the functioning of the extradition treaty between our Government and that of the USA and its impact on other UK citizens such as Gary McKinnon, Richard O’Dwyer and others.”
Babar Ahmad campaigners needed 100-thousand signatures on an online petition that would make his case against extradition eligible for debate in the House of Commons to help prevent him being extradited to face US terror charges.
Babar Ahmad’s petition is in the top three of all government e-petitions and is one of only six to have achieved the amount of signatures required.