UK: Amnesty urges opposition to 42 days pre charge detention as defining moment for UK human rights

As the government today publishes its Counter-Terrorism Bill, with plans to give police the power to detain terrorism suspects for 42 days, Amnesty International urged MPs and the public alike to show their opposition to the proposals in a ‘defining moment’ for human rights in the UK.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The Counter-terrorism Bill could be a defining moment for human rights in the UK. And when the time comes to vote, we feel that MPs should draw a line in the sand on this issue, once and for all. The Government cannot keep chipping away at people’s rights without them eventually becoming severely diminished.

“Locking someone up for six weeks is punishment without a court deciding the law has been broken.”

Amnesty members across the country are meeting their constituency MPs, urging them to oppose the plans to extend the time for which police can hold terrorism suspects without charge. The organisation is also asking people to sign the “Not a Day Longer” e-petition on the No.10 website at: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/notadaylonger

Kate Allen said:

“It’s time for people to stand up to this government and tell them that we won’t let our liberties be taken away from us. We need to show the Prime Minister that the public doesn’t want these draconian measures.

“The vast, vast majority of people in Britain are resolutely opposed to terrorism. They want anyone suspected of trying to murder large numbers of innocent people to be tried before a judge and jury and, if guilty, punished with the full weight of the law.

“But once we start using oppressive laws, counter-terrorism methods can soon take on the appearance of persecution.

“There is a lot of talk about winning ‘hearts and minds’ in the fight against terrorism. But if pre-charge detention limits are raised once again, the communities likely to be most affected are going to see the government’s words as very hollow.”

Amnesty also expressed concern at the impact of domestic legislation on the UK’s global reputation.

Kate Allen said:

“Outside the UK, our standing as a country that respects human rights is undermined every time a new draconian measure is introduced. How can the Foreign Secretary stand infront of his Chinese counterpart and argue against arbitrary detention when his colleagues at home are seeking the power to lock people up for six weeks without charge?”

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