April 2012

Sarah's bulletin: 2nd April

Dear friends,

We were particularly busy on consumer and citizens' rights in Brussels last week, as well as - very importantly - the interests of taxpayers. More on those stories later, first a word about the London Liberal Democrat conference last Saturday. 

London LibDems

Sarah's bulletin: 5th April

David Walter

I was very sad to hear of the death of David Walter at the age of only 64. He was very active within the party, both behind the scenes and on the frontline. His prestigious career in broadcast journalism led to him being appointed Director of Communications for the party. More recently he was chair of Kingston LibDems.

UK courts should be first option for trials

Commenting on the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that extradition to the US would not breach the rights of several terrorist suspects, including Abu Hamza and Babar Ahmad, Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford said:

"The finding by the Court that there would be no inhuman treatment if extradition to the US took place still leaves open the question of whether the US is the right place to try all of these suspects."

"There should be a bar to both EU and US extradition if the offence took place mainly in the UK. Those like Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer whose alleged crimes were perpetrated from their computers at home in Britain should face home-grown justice."

EU needs to lead international end to rendition and torture

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford is co-rapporteur of a new European Parliament report assessing the state of play on extraordinary rendition, secret detention and torture.

This follows up MEPs' 2007 report on complicity by European states in 'war on terror' abuses, which pointed to a dozen countries which had colluded in extraordinary rendition. They appear to have allowed CIA rendition flights to use their airports, harboured secret prisons or colluded in abductions.  MEPs then urged EU states to carry out full inquiries, and are now reviewing what progress has been made in Europe and internationally. Today a hearing has been held in the sub-committee on human rights. 

Sarah Ludford commented:

Update from Sarah Ludford MEP

Welcome to my regular email update. Of course it’s a busy time for the Liberal Democrat Team London with less than a month to go before the Assembly and Mayoral elections as well as a number of byelections. I’m trying to get to as many places as possible: I’ve been out campaigning with Caroline Pidgeon, Brian Paddick, Lisa Smart, Merlene Emerson, Shas Sheehan, Stephen Knight, Munira Wilson, Bridget Fox ….to name just some of the Team London members, and have been thoroughly impressed with their commitment and vitality! I’ve also of course been kept busy in my ‘day job’ in Brussels and Strasbourg, being involved in a whole range of issues from extraordinary rendition to diabetes.

Iranian death penalty for drug offences and EU funding

Question for written answer E-011425/2011to the Commission
Rule 117
Baroness Sarah Ludford (ALDE)

Subject: Iranian death penalty for drug offences and EU funding
Iran is one of 32 countries which apply the death penalty for drug-related crimes, including trafficking, cultivation, manufacturing and possession of illicit drugs. However, under Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights capital punishment should be reserved only for 'the most serious crimes', and the UN Human Rights Council has stated that drug offences do not fall into this category. It is estimated that Iran executed approximately 590 people for drug offences in 2010 alone[1].

May gets it right on Qatada

Commenting on the statement by Home Secretary Theresa May on Abu Qatada, Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford said:

'The guarantees she has secured from Jordan seem sound. Unlike her I supported the Strasbourg court judgement, but I applaud her hard work in ensuring that evidence extracted under torture will not be used at his trial."

"I also welcome her robust rejection of any suggestion that the UK government could 'just ignore Strasbourg and put Qatada on a plane.' It is reassuring that she insists on the UK respecting the rule of law."

Notes to Editors

Theresa May’s statement can be read here:

Sarah's speech to Parliament EU-USA agreement on the use and transfer of PNR to the US Department of Homeland Security

Sarah Ludford (ALDE ). - Madam President, I just wanted Commissioner Malmström to know not only how much the ALDE Group appreciates her work, but also that it has persuaded a significant part of the ALDE Group to vote in favour of the agreement.

In particular I find the declaration that she has offered very valuable. Her pledges to be really on the ball about the review and monitoring mechanisms in the agreement, particularly the scope and purpose limitation under Article 4, are of particular relevance. She is aware of Parliament’s concern – which I share – about Articles 4(2)(3)(3) and 4(2)(3)(4). She knows we will be on her tail.

US passenger data deal is worth supporting


LibDem European justice & human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford MEP will today vote in favour of the agreement on transfer and use of air passenger data to the US designed to help combat terrorism and serious transnational crime. She said:

"This agreement is not perfect. But it's a great deal better than the existing framework and, crucially, than any of the alternatives. There is no chance of the US improving their offer."

"If MEPs reject this deal it creates legal uncertainty, deprives us of any platform on which to build a better agreement, and leaves the field open to weaker bilateral accords which the EU will not be able to control."

Sarah's bulletin: 20th April

My week has been rather heavily focussed on the European Court of Human Rights and other civil liberties matters.

European Court of Human Rights reform

As I write the 'Brighton conference' is coming to a close. The UK has held the rotating 6-month presidency of the 47-state Council of Europe - the sister organisation of the EU which includes the European Court of Human Rights - since November. David Cameron pledged that he would use the UK’s term of office to seek reform of the Court.