CAMPACC statements, press releases...
Public meeting: No to 28-day pre-charge detention - No to punishment without trial - No to the politics of fear
CAMPACC in Association with Haldane Society of Socialist LawyersTuesday, 13 July, 7-9pm
Committee Room 4, House of Lords, Westminster, SW1
Hosted by Lord Rea. All welcome.
Imran Khan Solicitor, Imran Khan & Partners, Vice-President of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Isabella Sankey Policy Director, Liberty
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Hicham Yezza, Writer and Activist, Editor of Ceasefire Magazine. Unjustly detained under terror laws for 6 days. He has recently won his case against the Home Office's attempts to deport him.
Anne Gray, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
Under UK law, people suspected of having committed terrorist offences can be held and questioned by police for up to 28 days before being charged with an offence – or else released without charge. Previously terrorist suspects could only be detained for up to 14 days before charge or release (Terrorism Act 2000). When the period was extended under the Terrorism Act 2006, neither the government nor the police gave any credible grounds for requiring a longer period. For anyone called a ‘terror suspect’, the current limit represents an even greater extension from before the Terrorism Act 2000 – when the limit was only 7 days. For ordinary criminal suspects, including those suspected of the most serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape etc, the period is only 96 hours.
The long limit is a dangerous, unjust power. Even shorter periods have been used to stigmatise, intimidate and isolate people by branding them as ‘terror suspects’. The power to arrest and detain suspects under the terrorism legislation permits detention on vague grounds, e.g. that they are suspected of involvement in the preparation, commission or instigation of terrorism. No further details are needed. That suspicion permits the police to detain a suspect for up to 28 days.
The police are supposed to use the period when someone is detained before charge to interview the suspect, and to decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to charge that person. The police have usually already gathered evidence before they arrest a suspect, and so there is often very little additional evidence to be gathered while the person is detained. It is impossible to justify holding someone for 28 days – four weeks – simply to conduct a few interviews.
This despotic practice puts detainees under enormous psychological pressure. It can be used to extract dubious ‘information’, thus justifying detention of yet more ‘terror suspects’. It can be used for blackmailing detainees to become informers on ordinary activities in their communities. Pre-charge detention acts as a substitute for a proper criminal investigation.
Such a long detention violates the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. It amounts to internment in all but name, thus violating the principle of habeas corpus. Detainees may not know the grounds for any suspicion against them. Detention for up to 28 days is the equivalent of serving a 56 day prison sentence. Lengthy pre-charge detention amounts to punishment without charge, much less a trial.
Such long pre-charge detention is not credibly necessary in order to protect the public. It doesn’t make us safer. But it does encourage a politics of fear and suspicion, creating distrust towards and within the communities who are targeted by such powers. Perhaps for this political aim, the UK has the longest period of pre-charge detention in the Western world.
The Home Secretary intends to ask Parliament to renew the powers for six months. This decision must be made by Parliament by 25 July 2010. If the powers are not renewed by 25 July, then they lapse and the time limit reverts to 14 days.
Ask your MP to vote against renewal. Use the facility on the Liberty website, Charge or Release, http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/
Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers www.haldane.org
For information: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 0207 586 5892