UK Liberty

Shame on the Conservatives

Posted in law and order, politicians on liberty, rule of law by ukliberty on February 19, 2009

Whatever you think of Abu Qatada (and I think very little of him), it was not right that he was unlawfully detained.

And indeed that is what the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.  The Guardian:

The radical preacher Abu Qatada was today awarded £2,500 compensation by the European court of human rights after judges ruled that his detention without trial in the UK breached his human rights. …

The court said the men’s detention violated three provisions of the human rights convention: the right to liberty and security; the right to have the lawfulness of detention decided by a court; and the right to compensation for unlawful detention. The judges rejected a fourth complaint, that the men’s detention amounted to “torture and inhuman or degrading treatment”. …

So along comes Chris Grayling, shadow Home Secretary for the Conservatives:

This decision will horrify most reasonable people in the UK.

Essentially saying that unlawfully detained people shouldn’t be entitled to compensation.  This seems unreasonable to me.

It shows just how incompetent the government has been at managing the problem of preachers of hate and, frankly, it makes a mockery of the concept of human rights if we can’t protect ourselves against people who are out to destroy our society.

It’s got to be done lawfully though.

Note the Court took into account that Qatada was held as a result of a public emergency:

In their ruling, the judges said the detainees’ cash compensation was “substantially lower” than in previous cases of “unlawful detention”. This was because they recognised that the government’s detention scheme was “devised in the face of a public emergency, and as an attempt to reconcile the need to protect the UK public against terrorism with the obligation not to send the applicants back to countries where they faced a real risk of ill-treatment”.


Shadow security minister Crispin Blunt said the pay-out was “an appalling scandal”. (the BBC)

No, it is an appalling scandal when high-up Conservatives demonstrate a disrespect for the rule of law and fundamental human rights.  Shame on them.

Yes, it does seem a bit odd to compensate someone we consider a threat to national security and want to deport.  On the other hand, though, we can’t have the state unlawfully detaining people.


Liberty dies by a thousand cuts

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on February 19, 2009

Timothy Garton-Ash in the Guardian:

For 30 years I have been travelling to unfree places, from East Germany to Burma, and writing about them in the belief that I was coming from one of the freest countries in the world. I wanted people in those places to enjoy more of what we had. In the last few years, I have woken up – late in the day, but better late than never – to the way in which individual liberty, privacy and human rights have been sliced away in Britain, like salami, under New Labour governments that profess to find in liberty the central theme of British history. …

Let’s be clear: though the Stasi headline is irresistible, such Stasi-nark methods do not yet make a Stasi state. The political context is very different. We don’t live in a one-party dictatorship. But nor is this just “an isolated case”, as ministers always protest. Almost every week brings some new revelation of the way in which our government has taken a further small slice of our liberty, always in the name of another real or alleged good: national security, safety from crime, community cohesion, efficiency (ha ha), or our “special relationship” with the United States. …

What’s more, the certain loss of liberty will often not result in the alleged gain in security or efficiency. So, for example, Gordon Brown and his ministers went on pressing for 42 days’ detention without trial, despite the fact that two former heads of the country’s security service, the director of public prosecutions, the former lord chancellor, attorney general and lord chief justice – in short, almost everyone in a position to know – said it was wrong, unnecessary and counterproductive. How can a government of intelligent and often liberal-minded persons behave so illiberally, arrogantly and stupidly? What screw have they got loose? What nerve is missing? …

Hmm, who to believe?

Posted in ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 19, 2009

home office minister Meg Hillier said that home secretary Jacqui Smith had visited Manchester last month and found trade unions “very supportive of the scheme”.

But Unite, the union that represents airside workers at Manchester Airport, said there had been no change of position and that members were still not in favour of carrying cards.

“We are fundamentally opposed to the scheme but are engaging with government on an 18-month evaluation phase while continuing to raise concerns on behalf of members,” said a spokesman.