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Amnesty calls on Northern Ireland Lords to oppose 42 days detention

Amnesty International today (8 July) urged Northern Ireland peers to oppose the extension of pre-charge detention limits to 42 days in terrorism cases, ahead of today’s House of Lords debate on the Counter-terrorism Bill. The human rights organisation said local peers could help restore Northern Ireland's 'damaged reputation at Westminster', by voting against the government's Bill.

Amnesty International has written to fifteen local peers asking them to vote against the Bill. The organisation believes that extending pre-charge detention risks moving UK law even further away from fundamental principles of fairness and the protection of human rights.

Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said:

“Northern Ireland's peers must do what most of its MPs failed to do and defend basic human rights. We look to our local Lords to restore Northern Ireland's damaged reputation at Westminster.

“People throughout the country are relying on the Lords to reject this Bill, which only scraped through the House of Commons.

“Amnesty members in Northern Ireland will continue their campaign to persuade MPs to stand up for civil liberties and vote against 42 days pre-charge detention.”

Amnesty believes that the Counter-terrorism Bill still lacks proper judicial safeguards and that parliamentary scrutiny will be meaningless because of the risk of prejudicing future trials. There is also serious concern that the definition of the “grave and exceptional threat” that would trigger the Home Secretary’s decision to seek extended pre-charge detention, is too broad.

Amnesty accepts that the government has a duty to protect the public but argues strongly that this should only be done in a way that respects their rights. The organisation’s members have been campaigning against extending pre-charge detention limits since the idea was first proposed.

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