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UK: Consensus against 42 days pre-trial detention grows as more names signal opposition

Amnesty International released a letter signed by a host of high-profile figures voicing their opposition to the Government’s plans to extend pre-charge detention limits to 42 days in the Counter-Terrorism Bill, the day before it gets its second reading in Parliament on Tuesday 1 April.

Signatories to the letter include Patrick Stewart, Vivienne Westwood, Colin Firth, A C Grayling, Iain Banks, Ken Loach, Sir David Hare, Nick Broomfield, John le Carre and Lord Ahmed.

The letter calls on the Government to abandon proposals in the Counter-Terrorism Bill to further extend pre-charge detention to 42 days. It states that extending the limit would damage community relations and undermine human rights protected by international law. It concludes:

“Habeas corpus, which safeguards people from arbitrary detention by the state, is the bedrock of British justice. A convincing case that it should be eroded has not been made by the Government. The case that it should remain has been made for nearly 800 years.”

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The consensus against 42 days detention without charge is growing stronger and stronger. Despite a serious effort by the Home Office to ‘sell’ these proposals, they have failed to make a convincing case.

“MPs should refuse to be part of this assault on UK civil liberties and oppose any extension of pre-charge detention limits. There is a real opportunity to defeat this Bill and take a stand for human rights.

“The British public can do their bit too - we shouldn’t sit back and let our rights be taken away. We must tell the government that these draconian measures are a step too far.

“Police in this country should not be allowed to lock someone up for six weeks without even charging them with a crime. Habeas corpus has long been a fundamental principle of Britain’s judicial system and it should not be undermined.”

Amnesty International is urging people to sign a “Not a day Longer” e-petition calling on the Government not to extend the time for which police can hold terrorism suspects without charge.

Proposals to further extend pre-charge detention limits have already been criticised widely. Those who have previously spoken out include Lord Goldsmith (former Attorney General), Stella Rimington (former MI5 Chief), Sir Ken Macdonald (Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service), Lord Woolf (former Lord Chief Justice), plus Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and Home Affairs Select Committee.

The full list of signatories to today’s letter is as follows: Vivienne Westwood, Colin and Livia Firth, Iain Banks, Patrick Stewart, Ken Loach, Sir David Hare, Nick Broomfield, A C Grayling, John le Carre, Lord Ahmed, Peter Capaldi, Riz Ahmed, star of Britz and Road to Guantanamo, Hamant Verma, editor of Eastern Eye, Sunny Hundal, editor of and Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director.

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