Judge blocks extradition of gay British man to UAE, where gays can face death penalty
A court has blocked the extradition of a British man to the United Arab Emirates, after he argued his sexuality would put him at risk.
Michael Halliday faces a theft charge in Dubai – but appeared in court in London this week to battle a bid to extradite him.
Halliday denies the theft accusation, but claims he is terrified he will face “unfair prejudice” if made to stand trial in the UAE – where consensual gay sex can lead to the death penalty.
The businessman previously travelled to UAE of his own volition, but says he now fears “the fact that I’m openly gay would mean that there would be prejudice against me” in the justice system.
The theft allegation was related to his employment as an operations manager at a department store, where money disappeared from a safe. Halliday denies all wrongdoing – but says he is scared to return and fight to clear his name.
The UAE’s federal penal code states the penalty for ‘consensual sodomy’ is death, while Dubai’s penal code suggests 10 years imprisonment.
However, according to the Independent, London District Judge Jeremy Coleman concluded: “Mr Halliday has proved to the required degree that in the event of extradition there is a substantial risk that both his Article 3 and 6 rights would be breached.”
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The provisions refer to the right to not face torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to a fair trial.
Halliday said in a statement: “When I left Dubai in 2013, I had no reason to believe that the authorities would pursue me on my return. I worked for 13 months as an operations manager in the retail industry. I had to leave for family reasons.
“I have been through a distressing eight months of uncertainty not knowing if I would face extradition to UAE to face accusations that I firmly believe I can prove I am not guilty of. It is not the clearing of my name that I feared.
“It was more a serious question as to whether there was a realistic prospect of me being able to prove my innocence at trial given the UAE’s unfair justice system has a poor track record in its treatment of foreign prisoners and particularly members of the LGBT community.”
“Thankfully, after today’s outcome, I can now continue my life without fear of the prospect of extradition.”
Halliday’s lawyers also noted there had been 43 complaints by British nationals of torture or mistreatment within the UAE justice system, in the past five years alone.
37 of those related to British nationals detained in Dubai and 19 of them alleged they had suffered physical beatings.