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Lock them up and throw away the key (for six weeks)

After much delay and a period of supposed consultation, the Home Secretary today published the Counter-Terrorism Bill, accompanied by a media blitz. (Though she was soon upstaged by Peter Hain).

I say supposed consultation because, as Conservative bloggers like John Redwood and Tony Sharpe have had great fun pointing out, hardly anyone agreed with the plans. Yet they went ahead anyway. As Mr Redwood says: The Home Secretary finishes a consultation where 90% of the respondents tell her they do not want to see any increase in the 28 day period of detention without charge or trial. As a result, she concludes she must press ahead with legislation to allow detention for up to 42 days.All the Consultation has done is to persuade her to use a softer tone of voice.

But the fun doesnt stop there, oh no! The laughs about kebab shops have barely died down (how dare she say Hackneys not safe!) and now Jacqui Smith is being compared by some bloggers to the ever-eloquent Donald Rumsfeld, for this particular piece of concise communication. Confronted with the charge that she was legislating against a hypothetical situation (the police have never needed more than the current 28-day detention limit) she told the Today programme:

We need to legislate now for that risk in the future. It wont be hypothetical if and when it occurs. We are not legislating now on the basis that we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future; we are bringing in a position for if it becomes unhypothetical.

Thats cleared that one up, then.

Of course, taking away our fundamental liberties isnt funny at all. Amnesty will be one of many, many voices arguing against this oppressive piece of legislation and if the Guardian is to be believed, theres a good chance that it will be defeated in parliament.

Be part of the campaign writing to your MP, particularly if its a Labour backbencher, could make all the difference. Or sign up to the Not A Day Longer e-petition on the No.10 website at:

About Amnesty UK Blogs
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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