The human story behind UK counter-terror measures

First, a confession – I’m very late with this blog and many of you may already have watched the film concerned (it aired on BBC Newsnight last Thursday).

No place like home” is a powerful documentary that looks at the reality of life for someone living under virtual house arrest as a result of the UK government’s counter-terrorism policy. The film-makers, on their website, describe it thus:

The chilling story of one man’s indefinite detention without trial or charge in 21st century Britain.

 This is the story the British government doesn’t want you to see, the story of indefinite detention without trial in 21st century Britain, the story of bugged houses and unsubstantiated intelligence and of the UK government’s collusion with torture.

Held under house arrest in an average suburban street in London, Hussain is risking it all to shed light on the most disturbing attack on human rights this century.

This is the suburban Guantanamo, 20 hour curfews, police raids and shattered families. A man trying desperately to keep his family together, the rock against his wife’s growing insanity and his children’s corrupted innocence.

This haunting film puts you at the heart of this nightmare, housing you with a family on the brink of destruction, the forgotten victims of the UK’s war on terror.

While the case that's featured isn't actually subject to a control order – he is on immigration bail pending deportation for national security reasons – the story nevertheless gives an insight into what it's like to have your liberty seriously restricted without first getting a fair trial, much like those who are subject to control orders. And thankfully, the UK’s control orders regime is looking increasingly under attack. The Supreme Court ruled last week (in the case of a man known as ‘AP’) that a control order imposing curfew restrictions and social isolation on someone can constitute a deprivation of liberty. Other court rulings have also gone against the government.

The legislation behind control orders will be subject to a renewal debate next year, but what may be more likely is that it’s examined as part of the coalition government’s wider review of counter-terrorism legislation. If that’s the case, let’s hope that control orders and other measures that effectively punish people without giving them a fair trial, are abandoned altogether.

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