UK terror detainees to be freed subject to "control orders"

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile] announced Wednesday that foreign terror suspects currently being detained in British prisons will be set free and will either be deported or will be subject to "control orders." At one end of the spectrum, the new control orders could require terror suspects to be placed under house arrest but also include the imposition of curfews, tagging, limits on telephone and internet use and restrictions on movement. Clarke's announcement is in response to a decision [PDF text; JURIST report] issued last month by a nine-judge panel of the House of Lords that the indefinite detention of foreign terror suspects without charge violates the UK Human Rights Act. BBC News has more on Wednesday's announcement.

12:18 PM ET - Responding to the Home Secretary's announcement, Amnesty International [advocacy website] said Wednesday that the proposal falls short [Amnesty press release] of the requirements of the law lords' ruling. Amnesty has called for UK authorities to "release immediately all those detained under Part 4 of Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 [text] (ATCSA) unless they are charged with a criminal offence and given a prompt and fair trial." Additionally, Amnesty is concerned about the possibility that some released detainees may be deported [BBC report] to countries where they could face serious human rights violations, including unfair trials, ill-treatment, torture, or execution. UK human rights organization Liberty [advocacy website] also responded to Clarke's proposal Wednesday:

The Home Secretary is right to show respect for the House of Lords damning ruling. However, temporary restrictions upon a suspect's liberty are only legitimate as long as a criminal charge and trial are in prospect. We urge the removal of the legal bar on intercepted material being used in trials.

Adherence to the rule of law should not be a game of cat and mouse. The Government should not swap one human rights "opt out" for another.
Read the Liberty press release.


 

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