Terrified and Innocent: The Evidence against Pre-Charge Detention

Article excerpt

A young Muslim woman has spoken about the appalling conditions she had to endure when she was held for 12 days without charge by police using existing powers to detain suspects in terrorist cases.

Farrah* was eventually released without charge but her experience has left her angry and bewildered. After arrest, it was almost 24 hours before she was allowed to see a solicitor. She has protested to Liberty, the civil liberties group who claim there will be more such cases if the Counter-Terrorism Bill before Parliament today extends detention without charge from 28 days to 42 days.

Liberty is highlighting her case in an attempt to persuade MPs to reject the extension of pre-charge detention in the Commons.

Farrah was arrested with her husband, who was also held for allegedly possessing documents connected with terrorism. She was not allowed to speak with her family for four days. Eight days had passed before the police disclosed the reason she was being held.

On the day she was arrested, Farrah was at home with her family. The police came to her house, searched the property for three to four hours then arrested her and removed her family from their home.

Farrah's father is disabled and it was a week before the family was allowed to return. During the search, the police took away her father's disability badge. It was returned to him a year later, months after it had expired.

When Farrah arrived at Paddington Green, her clothes were taken. Suffering from diarrhoea, she was in constant pain. She described the basic washing and hygiene facilities: "There was no toilet roll and only paper towels for body drying. I wasn't even allowed to comb my hair. …