[JURIST] Recent British court rulings against the legality of control orders [JURIST report] restricting terror suspects have precipitated a "constitutional crisis" in the UK, according to Labour Party MP John Denham [official profile], chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee [official website], speaking Thursday on BBC Radio 4 [recorded audio]. Denham was responding to Wednesday's High Court ruling striking down control orders for six suspects [JURIST report], and an April ruling by the same judge finding that the control order process denied defendants a fair trial [JURIST report]. Mr. Justice Jeremy Sullivan based his two rulings on his reading of Article 5 [text] of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) [PDF text], which protects against indefinite detentions. The ECHR was adopted into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998 [text].
The decisions challenge the legality of the controversial Prevention of Terror Act 2005 [text], which created control orders, a tool in the war against terror that authorizes the electronic monitoring or house arrest of terror suspects where there is not enough evidence to prosecute or convict them. Denham defended the necessity of control orders Thursday, saying:
We now know, from last year's London bombings, that the police and security services are taking life and death decisions about who to keep under surveillance. And if you don't have mechanisms of this sort for people you believe to be dangerous then it is difficult to protect the security of the public in the way we want.In the wake of another landmark ruling [JURIST document] by Sullivan in May giving asylum to nine Afghans convicted of hijacking a plane to the UK in 2002, Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile] called for a review [JURIST report] of "whether primary legislation is needed to address the issue of Court rulings which over-rule the Government in a way that is inconsistent with other EU countries interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights." BBC News has more.