UK: Prevention of terrorism bill a grave threat to human rights – Call for dropping of Bill

The organisation, which has also issued a new five-page briefing - The Prevention of Terrorism Bill: A grave threat to human rights and the rule of law in the UK - on the PTB measures, is deeply concerned that the executive will be empowered to circumvent the role of the police, the prosecuting authorities and the judiciary without any effective system of checks and balances.

Amnesty International said:

"Nothing short of charging people with an offence and fully granting them their right to be tried by an independent court can remedy the profound injustice and affront to human rights contained in this Bill.

“Those arrested under the terrorism powers should have full access to all the evidence against them and the right to mount a full and effective defence."

Under the PTB the executive would have unprecedented sweeping powers to make "control orders", including "house arrest" and tagging. Such orders would impose restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by domestic and international human rights law in the UK.

Amnesty International said:

"Under international and domestic human rights law ‘house arrest’ without charge or trial is no different from institutional deprivation of liberty, i.e. detention in prison."

Amnesty International is concerned that PTB provisions, if implemented, would lead to serious human rights violations against UK and foreign nationals alike. People would be deprived indefinitely of their rights without charge or trial on the basis of secret "evidence".

Such evidence may even have been obtained under torture or ill-treatment. People would also be deprived of their right to a full defence. The involvement of the judiciary in reviewing the executive’s decision would be ineffective.

Amnesty International is concerned that if introduced, the PTB would seriously undermine people’s human rights, including their rights to:

  • respect for private and family life
  • freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of assembly and association
  • freedom of movement
  • fair trial
  • liberty and security of person

The PTB was introduced before Parliament on 22 February 2005.

The UK government is seeking to have the bill approved by 14 March 2005 when Part 4 of the existing Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act will expire.

Amnesty International said:

"It is seriously disturbing that the UK authorities are trying to rush through once again another piece of legislation which is so fundamentally antithetical to the rule of law and human rights.

"The UK authorities were wrong in 2001 when they passed the ATCSA and are wrong now. The PTB contravenes the spirit, if not the letter, of the Law Lords’ judgment."

View latest press releases