HUMAN WRONGS; Civil Rights Groups Hit out at House Arrest Move for Brit Terror Suspects

Article excerpt

Byline: OONAGH BLACKMAN Political Editor

BRITONS will be locked up under house arrest for the first time as part of a new anti-terrorist law.

Some could be electronically tagged or held under curfew in a move which sparked a backlash by civil rights campaigners.

Human Rights Watch said: "House arrest on the say-so of the Home Secretary has no place in a democracy."

But Home Secretary Charles Clarke said: "My judgement is there remains a public emergency threatening the life of the nation." The new powers come after the Law Lords ruled last month that 12 foreign terrorist suspects held at top security jails including Belmarsh in South East London without charge had their human rights breached.

The Government will fast-track its new Bill through Parliament as powers for holding them will run out on March 14. Mr Clarke has refused to release them until the new laws come in. They would then be deported or put under house arrest.

Those held at home will be banned from using the phone, internet, contacting relatives or other "designated" people, or even going into the garden.

Kate Allen, of Amnesty International, said: "The Government is still sidestepping the law courts, still detaining people on secret evidence - only people will now be detained in their homes rather than at Belmarsh prison."

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: "What has happened at Belmarsh is quite frankly the equivalent of Guantanamo Bay."

The Law Society said putting suspects under house arrest with no plans for a trial was an "abuse of power".

And rights group Justice said the moves "fall short" of protecting basic rights.

But Mr Clarke defended his plans. He said: "I am very well aware the proposals I am making represent a very substantial increase in the executive powers of State in relation to British citizens who we fear are preparing terrorist activities. …