U.S. prosecutors are seeking to extradite Ali Charaf Damache, 50, an Irish resident originally from Algiers, who is accused of using online chat rooms to recruit American women into a would-be terrorist cell operating in this country and Europe. The High Court of Ireland has refused. It’s not because Ireland wants to prosecute him or believes he is innocent. Rather, the Irish court ruled that Damache, if sent to the U.S., would probably be locked up in the federal “supermax” prison. To the court, that amounted to “cruel and unusual” punishment.
The court’s refusal to extradite Damache highlights the conflicting perspectives on incarceration between the U.S. and Europe. Some European nations see the U.S. prison system as a barbaric anomaly in a country that has often insisted on the protection of human rights around the world. Even a terrorism convict, the Irish High Court said, should not be subjected to the harsh conditions at the supermax facility in Florence, Co., with its 24-hour solitary confinement, no family visits and lack of access to the media. Such a prison, the Irish court said, “amounts to a breach of the constitutional requirement to protect persons from inhuman and degrading treatment and to respect the dignity of the human being.”