High Court hands down decision on Samantha Orobator

January 20, 2010

The High Court today handed down judgment in two cases fought on behalf of Samantha Orobator, the British woman who was returned to Britain after a severely flawed trial in Laos.

The first case was a judicial review of Samantha’s detention, on the basis that her Laos show trial was so flagrant a denial of justice that it should be treated as illegitimate. The second was a habeas corpus application challenging the basis of her detention, along the same lines.

Lord Justice Dyson, sitting with Mr Justice Tugendhat, agreed that Samantha’s trial was deeply unfair, citing the fact that she was repeatedly threatened and coerced, prevented from putting forward a defence and forced to sign documents she did not understand.

However, he ruled that the injustice did not meet the high bar of ‘flagrant’, which would be needed to invalidate the Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Laos.

“The test is rightly set very high,” he said. “That is because it is important not to jeopardise or undermine the treaties for the repatriation of prisoners which the UK now has with many countries, so that those who are convicted abroad can serve their sentences here.”

Samantha would like to thank everyone who has helped her in her case, most notably the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ed Fitzgerald QC and Rhona Friedman at Bindmans LLP. She asks that she and her baby be left in peace to rebuild their life in the UK.

The full judgment can be found here; for more information please contact Bindmans LLP 020 7833 4433 or Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099/ 07931592674 or visit www.reprieve.org.uk.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Chair: Lord Bingham; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner