Two months detention without charge? Bad idea.

Today we joined the growing chorus of opposition to extending pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects, lining up alongside such luminaries as Justice, Liberty, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, both opposition parties and Lords Woolf and Goldsmith.

Its not a new position for us, of course for years weve opposed any country that detains people for long periods without promptly charging them. Its simply not justifiable. Of course governments have got to do their utmost to prevent terrorist attacks and to punish those who are guilty of plotting to kill innocent people. But they cant do so by throwing away the rulebook and locking people up for nearly two months without charge. We have a long-established legal system and we should use it.

Our briefings called Ten Good Reasons why extending pre-charge detention is a bad idea - a cunning ploy to engage Jason Donovan fans in the debate - and it does what it says on the tin, setting out arguments against the new proposals.

Most of them are pretty obvious from a human rights organisation. But its numbers two and three that Im particularly interested in the impact on community relations and on the individuals detained. I had some criticisms of Peter Kosminskys recent Channel 4 blockbuster Britz  - even though the drama itself had me completely gripped (and the websites very impressive) it felt like he tried to pack an eight-part series into four hours. But it did try to convey what it feels like when your community is the target of these measures, when youre pulled over by the police all the time and people youve grown up with are put under virtual house arrest on a Control Order. Two months is a very long time to be locked up for you could lose your job and your house pretty easily in that time and to be released without charge at the end of 58, 56 or however many days is going to damage peoples lives and alienate them and their communities.

On a wholly different note, Im really interested in the case of Watford footballer Alhassan Bangura facing removal to Sierra Leone as his leave to remain here has run out. He says its still dangerous for him to return as his father was the leader of a cult that hes now run away from. Watford are six points clear at the top of the Championship and 15,000 Watford fans will suddenly be taking a very close interest in asylum and immigration issues. Its already being picked up by some of the footy and otherblogs. Here he is in action.

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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