Campaign against Terrorism: Emergency Powers - New Law on Detention `Faces Court Challenge'

By Burrell, Ian | The Independent (London, England), November 14, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Campaign against Terrorism: Emergency Powers - New Law on Detention `Faces Court Challenge'


Burrell, Ian, The Independent (London, England)


CIVIL RIGHTS groups criticised the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, yesterday over his "alarming and ill-conceived" plans to imprison terror suspects without charge.

The civil rights group Liberty warned that the Government proposals - drawn up in response to the 11 September terror attacks - could lead to a national fingerprint database being set up "by the back door" and the unjustified storage by police of private e- mails.

The group's director, John Wadham, said proposals for internment would "punch a hole in our constitutional protections". He said: "The Government intends to jail people not for anything they have done, but for what the Home Secretary thinks they might do in the future. The Government can only get away with it because they're using it against foreigners."

Lord Rooker, a Home Office minister, said the proposed reforms in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill were "cautious and moderate". And the Home Office minister Beverley Hughes said the proposals would "safeguard our way of life against those who would take our freedom away". The measures are likely to be in place by Christmas.

The new detention laws would be reviewed 15 months after coming into force, and each year after that. On current figures, about 15 to 20 people a year would be detained. They could include any non- British citizens, including those who have been granted refugee status. Detention would apply only to those people who could not be deported and each case would be approved and reviewed at six- monthly intervals by a Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

Mr Blunkett declared a "state of public emergency" to secure an opt- out from the European Convention on Human Rights. The Home Office stressed that this was a legal term that did not equate with a "state of emergency" under British law.

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