A perfect example of inhumanity and injustice
Today our client, mother-of-three Eileen Clark, has been put on a plane by police officers at London Heathrow and extradited to the US – where the husband she fled almost 20 years ago waits to face her in court.
An emergency injunction to halt her removal was refused last night, despite our lodging two medical reports certifying that Eileen is not fit to fly because of numerous problems. Disgracefully, even that evidence wasn’t enough to stop the Home Office from handing her over.
Eileen has lived in the UK since the late 1990s. She took her children and left the US after allegedly being subjected to almost a decade of violence, sexual abuse, threats and psychological abuse at her partner’s hands. Two experts have assessed her as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result.
She was charged with “custodial interference” after leaving her husband in 1995, but instructed a US lawyer and believed the charge had been dismissed. However 15 years on, in 2010, she was informed out of the blue that she was to be extradited for international parental kidnapping.
How can it be in the public interest to haul this vulnerable, terrified woman across the Atlantic to face her alleged abuser in court, thousands of miles from her home, friends and family? Eileen’s desperate case is a perfect example of how inhuman, unbalanced and unjust our extradition system has become.
Mercifully, US air marshals have said they won’t restrain her throughout today’s flight providing she “conducts herself appropriately”. However she is extremely agitated and distraught – behaviour which we fear may yet be interpreted as “inappropriate”.
The decision to send Eileen to the US disregards the terrible harm that extradition itself, let alone the prospect of facing her alleged abuser, will have on her. The UK has comprehensively failed to understand the specific needs and distress of domestic violence, and has utterly failed Eileen today.
"Today is a bleak day," said Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge. "I am horrified that Eileen Clark is being flown back to the US to face her ex husband – after having left him almost 20 years ago.
"Eileen alleges that she experienced years of domestic abuse at his hands. It is highly disturbing that her claims have not been properly examined in a court of law in this country. Instead, this terrified woman is being handed back to the States to face criminal charges.
"This sets an incredibly dangerous precedent. My thoughts are with Eileen and her family today."