...make bad law, as the saying goes. However (I suspect you could see that word coming), this case is a perfect example of why we need the amendment to the Human Rights Act that I have been saying is needed for some time now.
It seems that Mr Jumaa Kater Saleh arrived in this country in 2004 as an asylum seeker, aged 16. His asylum claim was refused, but where the claimant is a child we allow them to remain here until 18. At the age of 18 he (naturally) made a further application to stay here, which was being considered when he was arrested for sexual offences. He was convicted on specimen charges of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl. It seems that the three victims, described as"far from mature for their age" were lured to a house and assaulted by Saleh and three others. Even at its face this is a disturbing crime, but I cannot help but wonder whether anything is concealed by the fact that he was convicted on a specimen charge that was (perhaps) straightforward to prove and required little by way of traumatic experiences in Court for the witnesses?
Anyway, he served his sentence and was then set to be deported back to Darfur... except that he claimed that this would be in breach of his human rights as "he would face inhuman and degrading treatment in Sudan, in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights". On that basis, he could not be deported. So he was held in an immigration detention centre while the Home Office tried to work out what to do with him; the Court has just ruled that he cannot be held indefinitely and declared that he is entitled to compensation for being held beyond what was reasonably necessary.
The Telegraph is up in arms because we are going to have to compensate a foreign paedophile. Once again, the media spectacularly misses the point. Of course we have to compensate him; if our civil servants are incompetent enough to hold someone illegally, then compensation will be due regardless of how unpleasant the individual is. There are two much more glaring problems leaping out of this case than the simplistic "Arrrgghhh immigrant paedo money waste!!!" headline that the Telegraph has grabbed.
First... his original asylum application was refused. In other words, it was decided that he would not face persecution if sent home. Then, his Human Rights application was successful, on the grounds that he would face persecution if sent home. Someone needs to think about that.
Second, and this is the point I have been making for some time, his argument that being sent back to Darfur would breach his human rights was made under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that "he would face inhuman and degrading treatment in Sudan". Inhuman and degrading treatment... in other words, treatment akin to (say) a sexually immature 13-year-old being dragged of the street into a strange house and being sexually assaulted by four men? Is it not an utter and rank hypocrisy to resist being sent to your own country on the grounds that, once there, you might be subject to treatment of the same class as you did actually inflict on a national of the country that accommodated you?
It isn't a huge change to the Human Rights Act that we need. Just a little one. Just one that says you can't use a human rights defence to protect you from the consequences of your own denial of the same human right to another.
Just that little change. That's all.