British politicians frequently boast about how the foundations of ‘modern’ British law are rooted in the Magna Carta declaration of 1215.
The logic being that the world did not know justice until King John put his seal on the Magna Carta on 15 June 1215 and so ‘modern’ British laws derived from the Magna Carta deliver justice even today and they remain a shining example to the rest of the world, especially the ‘backward’ African and Asian countries. The Magna Carta essentially states that no man shall be deprived of his liberty (i.e. imprisoned) or exiled from the land (i.e. extradited) without the lawful judgement of his peers (i.e. a fair public trial in which he is allowed to give his side of the story). For medieval 13th Century England that was still deep in savagery and barbarism it can be said that the Magna Carta was a big achievement.
Yet the truth is that some 600 years earlier an advanced civilisation in East Africa had been practically implementing the principles of justice found in the Magna Carta. But you wouldn’t know it because black African ‘savages’ teaching justice to ‘sophisticated’ white earls does not look too good in a school History textbook. The basic principle of justice that this 7th Century black African civilisation realised is that you cannot punish someone without giving them a fair trial in which you allow them to give their side of the story.
One of the earliest recorded extradition trials in international case law is Jafar bin Abi Talib and others vs Government of Quraish in the Royal Court of Justice of Abyssinia, 615 C.E. In the year 615 of Christian era, a group of Muslims fled torture and religious persecution in Makkah and migrated to Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) to seek sanctuary in the kingdom of the righteous Christian King Negus. The 16 Muslims were led by Jafar bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They had only just arrived in Abyssinia when the Government of Quraish sent an extradition request seeking the return of the group to Makkah. Amr bin Al-Aas QC (Quraish Counsel) with junior counsel Abdullah bin Abi Rabia were sent to Abyssinia to advocate for the men’s extradition.
The court convened one morning in the packed Royal Court of Justice of Abyssinia and presiding over the matter was the Honourable King Negus himself due to the seriousness of the matter. Amr bin Al-Aas QC, opening for the prosecution, laid out the basic facts of the case against the Muslim group. He stated that they were apostates who had abandoned the religion of their forefathers and so should be extradited back to Makkah.*He further added that since the Tribe of Quraish and the Kingdom of Abyssinia were major allies, under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003 Category 2 legislation no prime prima facie evidence had to be presented in order to seek the group’s extradition.* Read the rest of this entry »