UK government proposes 42-day detention without charge limit for terror suspects

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith [official profile] on Thursday proposed [press release; HO materials] extending the current time limit for the detention of terrorist suspects before charges are filed to 42 days, up from the current limit of 28 days. Smith's proposal follows statements made last June by former UK Home Secretary John Reid calling for longer pre-charge time limits [JURIST report], as well as a proposal [JURIST report] floated in July that would have allowed the extension of the 28-day limit after a declared state of emergency and would have allowed judges to authorize weekly extensions for up to 56 days subject to parliamentary notification. In a letter sent Thursday to a parliamentary committee, Smith wrote:

...the question of whether we should extend the current limit on the detention of terrorist suspects prior to charge has given rise to considerable debate. On one side the police have made the case that in their professional judgement it is likely that, at some point in the near future, the situation will arise in a small number of exceptional cases where there will be a need to hold terrorist suspects for more than the current limit of 28 days. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile of Berriew, has confirmed he shares this judgement. On the other side, concerns have been expressed by community groups and others that there has not yet been any firm evidence to support an extension to pre-charge detention and that any moves to do so could have a detrimental effect on community support for anti-terrorism legislation.
The government's proposal will meet stiff opposition from the main opposition parties, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, when it comes before Parliament. AP has more.



 

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