Bad news on 42 days

Bit of breaking (bad) news – the government's proposal to increase the pre-charge detention limit to 42 days – six weeks – has scraped through parliament by a majority of nine. Not that the politics is important to Amnesty, but it means that it only passed with the votes of the Ulster Unionists.

This is bad news for human rights. The government didn't make a convincing case that this would make anyone safer and in fact, by further alienating the muslim community with measures that will inevitably affect them most, it may make things worse. This is a lessoin that should have been learned from Northern Ireland, and clearly hasn't been.

The 'concessions' that have been granted are basically meaningless: parliamentary scrutiny won't be any use as MPs won't have any detailed information on individual cases. The judicial safeguards that have been put in place are nowhere near strong enough.

We've got two spokespeople down at parliament giving interviews (one with a hacking cough and another who has been up since 5.30am for a Sky News interview -quite a double-act!). I hope they're able to get a word in edgeways among all the political comment.

One glimmer of hope is that the Bill now has to go before the Lords – and as it only scraped through by nine votes, they may well be inclined to 'savage' it, as I heard one rebel MP say on Sky. That's where we'll be focusing our attention now.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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