Brown plan to extend terror limit

The article below is from the BBC news site. It identifies the main arguments very well on a highly controversial topic .

The last time the government tried to introduce extended detention without trial, MPs overwhelmingly rejected it. Not to show their solidarity to Muslims. But to protect hard fought for civil liberties. 

Whats most concerning is that there is no evidence that it would be useful. I have to admit, I didn’t realise policy making was a speculative affair. Appears I was wrong.

The question I would ask is how do Muslims protest this?…


Gordon Brown will push for an extension to the time terror suspects can be held without charge in a bill to be included in next month’s Queen’s Speech.

 But Downing Street is playing down reports he wants to double the current time limit to 56 days. The prime minister wants to head off a potential backbench rebellion by stressing new safeguards to protect civil liberties.

He has promised greater judicial and Parliamentary oversight of detention.

 The 28-day limit came into effect in July 2006 after rebel MPs defeated plans for 90-day detention.

The government has said that there have been no cases since then where a suspect has been released when a higher time limit would have led to a charge.

‘Not enough’

 But it argues that there may be cases in the future where more than 28 days will be needed for charges to be brought.

And it is hoping that by stressing new safeguards it will be able to quell any backbench rebellion on increasing the upper time limit.

 The government wants each seven-day period of detention beyond 28 days to be approved by the Director of Public Prosecution before being decided by a High Court judge.

The home secretary would also be required to make a statement to Parliament and there would be greater oversight by the government’s independent reviewer of terror laws.

In a speech on Thursday, Gordon Brown said: “In future 28 days may not be enough and we are also considering other proposals including post-charge questioning”.

He added: “There will be – and must be – greater protection for the individual, both greater legal or judicial safeguards on executive decisions and more intensive scrutiny of them by Parliament”.

‘No evidence’

Mr Brown did not mention 56 days in his speech but he has suggested in the past that the current 28-day limit could be doubled.

 Downing Street earlier distanced itself from newspaper reports Mr Brown would push for 56 days.

An aide told BBC News no decision had been made on an upper time limit.

The government has said it wants cross-party agreement on anti-terror laws.

But the Conservatives and Lib Dems both insist they will not back any extension of detention until the government can provide evidence it is needed.

Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, said: “We have always said that if there was evidence to support this we would look at it carefully.

 “So far, not only have we not had a shred of evidence to support this, but we have had an admission from the home secretary that there is not one new iota of evidence to support it and that any proposal to extend the term is because ‘they can imagine circumstances under which it would be necessary’.

“Gordon Brown has promised to ‘write the next chapter in British liberty’.

 “It would be a tragedy if this chapter proved to be an ill-thought through, politically motivated, curbing of the liberties that thousands, if not millions, of British citizens have died to defend


1 Comment

  1. I don’t know – why do Muslims specifically have to contest this? As you state in your opening para, I see it very much as a civil liberties issues more than anything else. Just because most (if not all) terror suspects are today Muslim should not mean that only the Muslim community should be concerned. I think the question should be “how do we, the British people, protest this?”

    In answering this question, Liberty suggests the following:

    • Remove the bar on the use of intercept (phone tap) evidence because its inadmissibility is a major factor in being unable to bring charges in terror cases. Liberty has given evidence to the Government’s Privy Council review on intercept evidence.

    • Allow post-charge questioning in terror cases provided that the initial charge is legitimate and there is judicial oversight. This will allow for a charge to be replaced with a more appropriate offence at a later stage.

    • Hire more interpreters: Prioritise the hiring of more foreign language interpreters to expedite pre-charge questioning and other procedures.

    • Add resources: More resources for police and intelligence services.

    • Emergency measures in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 could be triggered in a genuine emergency in which the police are overwhelmed by multiple terror plots, allowing the Government to temporarily extend pre-charge detention subject to Parliamentary and judicial oversight.

    The first bullent point is interesting – forsake one civil liberty for another basic human right(!) The future seems rather bleak.

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