Out of Control

The UK government’s Control Orders regime is being discussed by MPs today, in the annual review/rubber-stamping of this “lamentable system”, as Andy Worthington describes it in his excellent and detailed blog on the subject.

Today’s Guardian features a joint letter from a spectacularly-lengthy list of notables, primarily legal experts, calling for the Control Orders regime to be brought to an end. They describe the system as one of “permanent punishment without trial, whereby the innocent can be placed under house arrest on the basis of suspicion and secret intelligence.” Craig Murray, one of the signatories, goes into more detail on his own blog.

In a briefing to MPs, we at Amnesty have expressed similar concerns: Control Orders are an affront to human rights, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. For people’s liberty to be seriously restricted on the basis of an unfair ‘trial’ that uses secret intelligence that the accused cannot see or challenge is completely unacceptable in any country, let alone one that prides itself on the independence of its legal system.

The attack on Control Orders was lent further weight by parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, which issues a report last week. The JCHR, according to the Guardian’s reporting, said that “the continued operation of the unreformed system has, as we feared, led to more unfairness in practice, more unjustifiable interferences with people's liberty, [and] more harm to people's mental health and to the lives of their families.”

Even the Mail on Sunday has slammed Control Orders, running a piece yesterday criticising the £3m legal bill.

Ineffective, hugely expensive and totally at odds with fundamental freedoms that we take for granted in the UK – surely it must be time for Control Orders to go.

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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