The Foreign Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s handling of state-level hostage situations has called for more action to release the Independent People of Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
This was contained in a published submission by Bindmans LLP, on behalf of Nnamdi Kanu’s family, into the failures of the FCDO to take appropriate action in response to Mr Kanu’s torture, extraordinary rendition and arbitrary detention.
Bindmans LLP said, as a result, the FCDO has been asked to ensure that it provides timely and unprompted updates to family members about the steps it is taking on their behalf.
The mandate of the Inquiry of November 15, 2022 was to discuss the processes and approaches taken by the British government in securing the release of detainees in Iran and elsewhere, including Kanu.
The submission, therefore, examined the British government’s approach in Mr Kanu’s case and highlighted the limited effectiveness of that approach in the face of the serious breaches of international law that have been, and continue to be, committed against Mr Kanu, who is a British national.
On June 19, 2021, Kanu was abducted in Nairobi, Kenya, and detained before he was extradited from Kenya to Nigeria to face criminal prosecution in relation to his activities with the IPOB.
Since then, he has been detained in conditions that amount to torture at the headquarters of the DSS in Abuja and repeatedly denied access to medical assistance and to his legal team.
Kanu requested consular assistance from the British government, but the British High Commission officials have been permitted to visit him on only five occasions.
Bindmans LLP noted that the FCDO “should reassess its policy in respect of providing consular access to dual British nationals abroad, particularly in circumstances where there is a serious risk of torture, and where there are grounds to suspect that serious and egregious violations of international law have been committed by the state in question against the British national in their custody.
“The FCDO should be open and transparent with family members about its justification for adopting a certain approach and disregarding others.
“The FCDO should adopt and implement a specific policy in respect of appropriate action to be taken on behalf of British nationals who have been subject to extraordinary rendition.”
It regretted that despite the Nigerian Court of Appeal ruling and condemnation by the UN, successive Foreign Secretaries have been unwilling to reach any firm view as to whether Mr Kanu has been subject to extraordinary rendition, nor have they called for his release.
Representing the Kanu family, Bindmans in a judicial review challenged former Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss’ unwillingness to reach a decisive view that Mr Kanu was a victim of extraordinary rendition and other human rights abuses by the Nigerian government, an approach maintained by her successor, James Cleverly.
In light of Mr Kanu’s ongoing detention, the Kanu family hopes that the following recommendations made in the submission will be taken into serious consideration by the Inquiry and in turn by the British government.
Mr Kanu’s family was represented at the inquiry by John Halford and Shirin Marker of Bindmans LLP, together with Charlotte Kilroy KC of Blackstone Chambers and Tatyana Eatwell of Doughty Street Chambers and judgement is pending.