London – At a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, District Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot handed a conditional discharge to Muzaffar Abdullah, who had his children torn away from him while he was detained and questioned under Schedule 7 powers.
This case drew attention to the draconian and intrusive nature of Schedule 7 powers, which provide no right to remain silent to the detainee and coerce compliance even in the absence of any reasonable grounds for suspicion.
Muzaffar Abdullah told CAGE:
“I didn’t expect much to be honest. Judges seem to endorse policies which the government pushes forward. They appear to lack the courage to stick up for protecting basic rights.”
“I still maintain my innocence and I want to appeal. However, the legal route is not the only way forward. I want to raise awareness. We have YouTube and we have the pulpit. We mustn’t remain silent.”
Muhammad Rabbani, International Director of CAGE said:
“Muzaffar Abdullah’s principled refusal to cooperate with a draconian power should be celebrated. He was treated as a suspect whilst under no suspicion. Time will tell that the judgment handed down today was wrong.”
“Muzaffar Abdullah was in reality an innocent father of three who couldn’t bear the thought of having his children separated from him out of concern for their well being, so he refused to cooperate with the unjust demands against him. Such demands could not have been made anywhere else in the English legal system even if a person had confessed to multiple murders.”
“Lawyers have described Schedule 7 powers as being ‘Kafkaesque’. They are intrusive, coercive and an affront to the norms of justice and due process. They must be challenged before more innocent, law-abiding citizens are put through the trauma of being treated as criminals. We will continue our campaign to change the law, and we call upon all right thinking people to join us in our pursuit of justice.”
Image courtesy of emilio_k on Flickr
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)