Counter-terrorism review: Coalition government needs to get on 'right road' on human rights

Amnesty International has written to the UK government urging it to ensure that a promised review of counter-Security with human rights powers will recommend immediate reform of those measures that have seriously undermined human rights in the last decade.

In a 17-page submission to the Home Office, the organisation is calling for an end to the “control orders” regime; a reduction of the current 28-day period for which people suspected of involvement in terrorism can be held without charge; an abandonment of so-called “diplomatic assurance” deals in the deportation of foreign nationals; and the repeal of the police’s sweeping “stop and search” powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

The expert submission is being sent to the Home Secretary Theresa May and the review will be overseen by Lord Macdonald of River Glaven QC.

Amnesty International UK Policy and Government Affairs Head Jeremy Croft said:

“Protecting the public from terrorism is a vital concern for any government but in the last 10 years there’s been a serious overreaction that’s badly damaged human rights in this country.

“It’s encouraging that the coalition government has invited Amnesty International to feed into this important process and we hope the review will put the UK back on the right road on human rights.

“Scrapping the worst measures will signal that the UK is prepared to play its part in defending human rights as well as countering terrorism.  A move in this direction will bolster support for human rights globally as well as in Britain.”

Amnesty’s submission points out that the review is relatively limited in scope - for example it will not examine the definitions of terrorism in various terrorism-related offences which have been criticised as overly vague and broad - but the organisation welcomes the opportunity to make the case for reforms in several key areas.

The submission comes against the backdrop of repeated criticism from Amnesty and other human rights organisations of the government’s record on counter-terrorism policy and practice. In April, for example, Amnesty described the UK as “the most influential and aggressive” promoter in Europe of the policy of seeking “diplomatic assurances” as a means to deport people it labels a threat to national security. Amnesty has long said that these “no torture” deals are unreliable and unenforceable and endanger those deported under such arrangements.

Read the full submission - ' United Kingdom: Submission for the review of counter-Security with human rights powers ' (PDF)

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