UK Liberty

Government must rethink control orders

Posted in control orders by ukliberty on October 31, 2007

The Guardian:

The government must rethink some aspects of control orders imposed on terrorism suspects, the law lords said today, while ruling that the overall system can remain in place.

In a complex and lengthy series of decisions, Britain’s most senior judges said that the most restrictive aspect of the regime, an 18-hour home curfew, breached the human right to liberty. However, they held that shorter curfews, possibly up to 16 hours, were acceptable.

The law lords stopped short of condemning the entire control orders system, which restricts the movements and actions of suspected terrorists without the need for a trial.

They also ruled that control orders must be subject to the same fairness procedures as a civil trial, something that had been breached in certain cases. These cases were referred back to the high court for reconsideration.

[Home Secretary Jacqui Smith] added: “I am disappointed that they have found against control orders containing 18-hour curfews, which I feel was required to protect national security.

“I believe that today’s ruling could allow us to impose curfews of up to 16 hours, which I will now consider.”

At a hearing in July, Ian Burnett QC, representing the home secretary, told the law lords that a government’s first duty was “to protect its citizens from attack”.

The judgements (from three appeals held together):

Secretary of State for the Home Department (Appellant) v. JJ and others (FC) (Respondents)

Secretary of State for the Home Department v. MB (FC) (Appellant)

Secretary of State for the Home Department Respondent v. E and another (Appellant)

(worth noting: Home Secretary “identified (para 7 of the Court of Appeal judgment) five errors of principle : that the judge had identified liberty too broadly, as freedom to do as one wishes…”)

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