UK parliamentary panel opposes extending terror detention without charge limit

[JURIST] The UK parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) [official website] Friday issued a report [PDF text] opposing a proposal by the government to extend the time limit on detaining terror suspects [JURIST report] from 28 to 42 days. The JCHR concluded that the government had not made an adequate case for the increase and that:

i) it can find no clear evidence of likely need in the near future;
ii) alternatives to extension do enough, in combination, to protect the public and are much more proportionate;
iii) the proposed parliamentary mechanism would create a serious risk of prejudice to the fair trial of suspects;
iv) the existing judicial safeguards for extensions even up to 28 days are inadequate.
The JCHR report came less than a day after the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee [official website] published a similar report [PDF text], saying that "neither the police nor the Government has made a convincing case that the current limit of 28 days is inadequate at this time."

Earlier this month, UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith proposed [press release; HO materials] extending the current pre-charge time limit for the detention of terrorist suspects. Smith's proposal followed statements made last June by former UK Home Secretary John Reid calling for longer pre-charge time limits, as well as a proposal [JURIST reports] 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. The Guardian has more.


 

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