Friday, October 03, 2003

657 days in prison without charge or trial.

Just to remind people that when the British parliament passed the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the govt obtained the power to detain foreign nationals resident in Britain if the Home Secretary signed a certificate saying they were "suspected international terrorists". Liberty have been campaigning on this and point out that (as of this writing) there are several detainees who've spent a total of 657 days, 1 hour and 53 mins in prison under this legislation. Note that:

  • appeals cannot be made to normal British courts -- a special committee, the Special Immigration Appeals Committee, is in place instead operating under different procedures, thus the normal protection of the law is not afforded to these detainees. Proceedings of this committee can take place in the absence of the detainee, the detainee's lawyers, or both. Evidence can be given in the absence of the detainee and/or his lawyers. The reasons for decisions can be withheld.

  • No other European state has felt it necessary to introduce such powers to combat terrorism.

  • The detainees can be denied access to lawyers and families and have been denied such access for long periods.

This document from Liberty discusses Britain's anti-terror laws more generally and contains considerable detail on the internment measures. CAMPACC have a web page on the ATCS Act here. My own writings on Britain's anti-terror laws can be found on Magna Carta Plus.

Finally, I should mention that on uk.politics.misc Alan Goss has been highlighting this issue periodically.

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