UK: Citizens must be protected but not at the cost of their rights

Responding to the publication of Lord Carlile's review of anti-terrorism legislation and the Home Secretary's statement to Parliament, Amnesty International today said that the threat of terrorist attack must not be used to justify measures that seriously undermine human rights.

Amnesty International said:

“It is of course right to insist that the public are protected from attacks like those witnessed in London last year.

“But we shouldn’t lose sight of the simple fact that depriving people of their liberty without even putting them on trial – the principle behind much of the government’s anti-terror measures - is plain wrong.

“The use of Control Orders flies in the face of human rights law which states that people should only be punished if they have been charged and convicted after a fair trial.

“Amnesty International has always said that the government has a duty to defend everyone in this country from terrorism as well as a duty to safeguard hard-won human rights. It is not a choice between one or the other.�

The organisation noted that Lord Carlile questioned the lawfulness of detaining foreign nationals whom the government is seeking to deport, but cannot due to the prospect that they may face torture upon their return.

But Amnesty strongly challenged the argument that “Memoranda of Understanding� – promises from countries known to use torture that they will not harm an individual – are the answer.

Amnesty International said:

“Deporting people to countries known to use torture on the basis of a paper promise not only puts those people in grave danger – it imperils the global ban on torture itself.

“The UK must never turn a blind eye to torture or seek one-off agreements with known torturers. We must stand absolutely firm in our opposition to this vile practice�

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