Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 5 June 2008

Police State Britain: 42-day detention update

A joint committee of MPs and Peers has today published a report stating its belief that 'the plans breached European human rights laws and the amendments offered were "inadequate to protect individuals against the threat of arbitrary detention"'. The chairman of the committee, Labour MP Andrew Dismore, is quoted as stating:

"The government has talked of a major emergency, the 'nightmare scenario' of simultaneous plots across Britain or two 9/11s at once.

"Yet the amendments tabled by the government provide for possible events falling well short of that."

In other words their 'what if' scare tactics are not working as completely as the government would have wished!

The committee concludes its repot thus:

"No amount of additional parliamentary or judicial safeguards can render the proposal for a reserve power of 42 days' pre-charge detention compatible with the right to liberty in Article 5 of the ECHR (European Convention of Human Rights)."

Now I am no lawyer, but if the above conclusion were to be upheld by a judicial committee of the House of Lords then the present 28-day detention period should also be declared ultra vires as it seems to me it is not qualitatively different from the 42-day detention limit which the government now proposes.

Make no mistake, this is a matter of prime importance. I was very disappointed yesterday that at Prime Minister's Questions this matter was not included in the questions from either of the leaders of the Conservatives or LibDems, although I was pleased to see that at least one [female] Labour MP had the guts to ask the PM a pointed question on it. She of course got more 'waffle' in response!

The general opinion on Andrew Neil's 'The Daily Politics' was that David Cameron would not ask a question about it because whilst his Party and the LibDems were opposed to the policy, public opinion polls seem to show that only a relatively small number of people throughout the country are perturbed about this further proposed drastic erosion of civil liberties so there is no political 'mileage' in it for the Conservatives. It also seems to be the case that too many of the potential Labour MP 'rebels' have been won over either by the government's blandishments or simply by fear for their own political futures if they continue to oppose government policy. Completely odious and despicable.

There is a great propaganda war being waged by the government at present to try and get the vote it needs next week. I urge anyone who reads this to start making as much noise about this as they can to try and thwart them - only by making enough Labour MPs see where their true long-term interests lie will they ignore their own base short-term interests and vote their consciences.

For those complacent fellow-citizens who either think the 42-day limit is necessary or acceptable I urge them to consider the following. The dirty unspoken assumption is that 'only' brown-skinned or Moslem people are going to be affected by this change and the not-so-far-under-the-surface racism of many people means that a lot of people don't see that as a problem. It will be no good them complaining when, in a few years time, some perfectly ordinary middle-class white citizen is swept off the street into the State's clutches with little right of redress because they have said or read something that the government of the day finds unacceptable! We have already seen how CCTV and other covert surveillance is being misused and I find it very frustrating and alarming how complacent so many people are about their basic civil rights. There are yet another couple of alarming posts on SpyBlog recently here and here which frankly scare the bejeebers out of me; you need to read the whole of the first lengthy linked post before the implications begin to sink in.

My most recent previous article on the 42-day limit proposals is here.

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