By Mark Angeles
The human rights organisation Amnesty International has advised the British government to deny the request for extradition of a UK citizen suspected of a 2016 murder in Yangon because there is a chance that the accused will not receive a fair trial.
Recent news reports indicate that the Foreign Office of the UK would be hesitant to extradite Harris Binotti, 26, of Scotland, who is on Interpol’s most wanted list for the murder of Gary Ferguson of Northern Ireland, a fellow teacher, in November in downtown Yangon. Mr. Ferguson and Binotti, fellow teachers, had been out for a night of drinking.
Binotti fled Myanmar and was spotted in Scotland living with his girlfriend and has since gone into hiding. Scotland Police said they could not arrest Binotti because no arrest or extradition order had been received from Myanmar.
Earlier this week, a format request for extradition of Binotti back to Yangon was sent to the UK by Myanmar authorities.
On Monday, Amnesty International said it had concerns over the prospect of Binotti being handed over to face a murder charge in Myanmar in part because Myanmar still has the death penalty on its books. Attempts to obtain comment from Amnesty International were unsuccessful.
But a prominent Myanmar attorney and human rights advocate told the media that he believes the UK should actually help bring the man to justice, pointing out that no one has been executed in Myanmar since 1987.
“If the UK respects the sovereignty of Myanmar, they should extradite Binotti because the criminal case happened in the territory of Myanmar”, attorney Robert San Aung, a 2015 nominee for the Martin Ennals Award, in recognition of his work as one of Myanmar’s leading human rights defenders, told The Times in London.
An article in a recent edition of The Times quoted a UK government source who said human rights concerns should be taken into account.
“In terms of specific engagement in this case there are wider issues. One potential conclusion would be Mr Binotti facing extradition to a country that has the death penalty and clear human rights concerns”, the source told The Times. “We are being very careful that anything we do fully respects our human rights obligations”.
The latest revelation in the case has only deepened the anguish of Mr. Ferguson’s family.
“We feel sad and are very upset that Amnesty International has in no way ever talked about the suffering that our family and Gary’s wife and son are feeling at the moment”, said Martin Ferguson, Gary’s older brother.
“Gary’s son Jeremy has been declined the right to a father and will have to live with this for the rest of his life. We are still imprisoned and Binotti is running free. When will our human rights be respected with the arrest of the suspect? When will Great Britain acknowledge that the pain has gone on for so long, and that a crime committed in Myanmar needs to be tried in Myanmar?”