UK Liberty

JHCR report on Counter-Terrorism Bill

Joint Committee on Human Rights Ninth Report – overall they were very disappointed by the Bill, I think, especially the section on 42 day detention without charge:

In its Report of December 2007 on the Government’s outline proposal to extend the period of pre-charge detention from 28 to 42 days, the Committee concluded that the Government had not made a compelling, evidence-based case for the change. This Bill’s provisions on pre-charge detention are substantially the same as that proposal. The Committee welcomes provisions for limits on the scope of statements to Parliament about extended detention but still doubts that parliamentary safeguards would be meaningful. The Committee reaffirms the analysis in its previous Report and emphasises that, in its view, the Government’s proposals for pre-charge detention are not compatible with the right to liberty in Article 5 ECHR. In particular, it considers that the proposals are in breach of the right of a detained person to be informed “promptly” of any charge against him; are an unnecessary and disproportionate means of achieving the aim of protecting the public; and fail to provide sufficient guarantees against arbitrariness. As such they are incompatible with Articles 5(1), 5(2), 5(3) and 5(4) ECHR. (paragraphs 10-21).

It discusses the section on inquests that involve national security:

The Bill provides for the Secretary of State herself to appoint a “specially appointed coroner” and to require the inquest to be conducted without a jury where, in her opinion, the inquest will involve the consideration of material that should not be made public in the interests of national security, in the interests of the relationship between the UK and another country, or otherwise in the public interest. …

On first inspection we find this an astonishing provision with the most serious implications for the UK’s ability to comply with the positive obligation in Article 2 ECHR to provide an adequate and effective investigation where an individual has been killed as a result of the use of force, particularly where the death is the result of the use of force by state agents.

And expresses disappointment that the Government hasn’t looked at the fairness of control order proceedings (this recent open judgement is pertinent, by the way).