UK Liberty

Council of Europe body has serious doubts about 42 days legislation

Posted in detention without charge by ukliberty on October 1, 2008

The BBC:

Government plans to enable police to hold terror suspects without charge for 42 days have caused “considerable concern” at Europe’s human rights body.

The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee said suspects should be taken to prison after 14 days as police cells were inadequate for longer detention. …

The rest of this shoddy article pretends that’s all the report is about: conditions in cells.

They don’t bother to link to the report.  The most important bit in the summary, more important than conditions in detention it seems to me, is this:

3.       The Assembly has serious doubts whether all the provisions of the draft legislation are in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. A lack of appropriate procedural safeguards may lead to arbitrariness, resulting in breaches of Articles 5 (right to liberty and security) and 6 (right to a fair trial) of the Convention. The Assembly is particularly concerned that:

3.1.       the judge determining the extension of a person’s detention may not be in a position to examine whether there exist reasonable grounds for suspecting that the arrested person has committed an offence;

3.2.       legal assistance and representation by a lawyer may be inappropriately restricted or delayed;

3.3.       information on the grounds for suspicion of a person having committed an offence may be unduly withheld, even from institutions competent in deciding on continued detention;

3.4.       the draft legislation may give rise to arrests without the intention to charge;

3.5.       prolonged detention without proper information on the grounds for arrest may constitute inhuman treatment of the person held in these conditions.

4.       The Guidelines on Human Rights and the Fight against Terrorism, adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2002 and which confirm the established case-law of the Strasbourg Court, serve as a model for legislation. In particular, any person arrested or detained for terrorist activities must be told of the reasons for his or her arrest and must be able to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest and continued detention at an adversarial hearing.

5.       Legislative provisions concerning deprivation of liberty, including the detention of terrorist suspects, must be clear, precise and easy to comprehend. The draft legislation is, however, unduly complicated and not readily understandable.

6.       Parliamentary involvement in the extension of pre-charge detention, as proposed, is not appropriate. Hence, from the perspective of the separation of powers, the decision to maintain a person in custody is a judicial function with respect to which a legislative, political body should, as a matter of principle, have no say.


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