UK Liberty

There is a case for extending pre-charge detention… somewhere around here… er… can’t find it at the moment… bear with me…

Posted in detention without charge, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on October 29, 2007

Lord Carlile has again weighed into the detention without charge debate, after Gordon Brown’s recent call for 56 days to receive due consideration.

I covered the second-most recent call at the beginning of the month in a post entitled, “That settles it!“, after which I (naively) concluded that if someone conceded there were no cases where longer periods had actually been needed he would shut up at least until a time where he got evidence to the contrary:

The BBC:

Sir Ian [Blair, Met Police chief] conceded that there have been no cases so far where detention beyond 28 days had been needed …

The government’s independent reviewer of terrorism laws, Lord Carlile, agreed there was no evidence of a case so far in which it could be shown that detention beyond 28 days would have made a significant difference.

‘Nuff said!

If you don’t need it you can’t have it.

If you want it you can bloody well prove you need it.

Of course I was wrong – yes, absolutely wrong, I admit it.

There is a case for extending the 28-day limit on questioning suspected terrorists, the government’s terror legislation watchdog has said.

Lib Dem peer Lord Carlile of Berriew is due to report to the home secretary on whether the limit should be lengthened.

He told BBC One’s Politics Show he had concluded that in a “small number” of cases, “a 28-day period between arrest and detention may be insufficient”.

But Tory leader David Cameron said “no new evidence” supported an extension.

Lord Carlile gave Kafeel Ahmed, who died of his injuries after an alleged terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport,

Kafeel Ahmed suicide-immolated on 30 June 2007. He died in hospital, after sustaining 90% burns, four days later on 4 July 2007.

as an example of why police might need more time to question a suspect before bringing charges.

The peer said: “Had he survived, it is possible that time for interviewing him would have run out before he regained consciousness.

“So that’s one example in which 28 days can be insufficient.”

Blimey. Someone commits a suicide attack, it goes badly wrong and they lay dying and unconscious in hospital for four days (save the two occasions on which he is revived), and that’s an example in which 28 days detention without charge can be insufficient… umm… ooookaaaaay.

Ah wait… perhaps Carlile means, Ahmed could have been unconscious for 27 days, and then the police could only question him for one day. Um… the 28 day limit applies to the time you can be held in legal custody without being charged. If you are lying unconscious in hospital there probably isn’t much point in arresting you! They certainly wouldn’t be able to cart you off to the station if you had 90% burns.

And the police of course are entitled to ask questions without arresting you.

No, I can’t see that Kafeel Ahmed has any relevance at all.

He added that cases which involved complex forensic analysis, or where alleged terrorists had carefully encrypted computer files, might also require suspects to be detained beyond the present limit.

Like, forever – because decent encryption is practically impossible to crack in a finite period of time. So, shall we propose infinite days detention without charge?

He said: “My concern is not about the number of days. The number of days is a political decision, there’s no logical answer as to how many days are ideal as a maximum.

“I’m concerned about the quality of the process and what I shall be emphasizing is increasing the judicial scrutiny over this process of detention so that those who are innocent are protected from arbitrariness by the state.”

Lord Carlile suggested that a senior judge should be involved at an early stage to assess whether detention is justified.

He added that a new a US-style National Security Council, as proposed by Gordon Brown, was “an extremely good idea in principle”.

But on Sky News’ Sunday Live, Mr Cameron said the Conservatives would oppose any increase in the 28-day limit and insisted that Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s position on the issue was confused.

The Tory leader added: “On the one hand to say this is a new chapter of British liberty, but he wants even longer to bang people up without charge or a trial.

“Totally muddled, totally incoherent.”

Would you like to be banged up for 28 days (let alone 56 days) with no practical way of challenging it, yes or no?

Update 1 Nov

I forgot this post from SpyBlog about the supposed urgency of 28 days

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