UK: Reaction to Court of Appeal judgement on 'M' vs Home Secretary

'This now means that one of the 14 non-UK nationals who have been held without charge or trial, in some cases for over two years, should be released.

'The verdict highlights the very real dangers of legislation that allows the UK government to detain people without charge or trial on the basis of secret 'evidence' that would not stand up in a court of law.

'Internment is a draconian measure which undermines hard-won human rights protections in this country.

'Amnesty International has consistently called for Section 4 of the Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act to be repealed. It is time that the government listens to the concerns of not only Amnesty International but also the Privy Council and overturns this legislative provision.'

Background

Amnesty International believes that the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) is discriminatory, with one set of rules for UK nationals and another for nationals of other countries. It effectively allows non-nationals to be treated as if they have been 'charged' with a criminal offence, 'convicted' without a trial and 'sentenced' to an open-ended term of imprisonment.

The UK government has effectively created a shadow criminal justice system for non-UK nationals which fails to meet international standards for a fair trial. The system permits potentially indefinite detention on the basis of secret 'evidence' and allows the use of 'evidence' extracted under torture.

In December 2003, the Committee of Privy Counsellors, who had been charged with reviewing the ATCSA, recommended the urgent repeal of ATCSA powers allowing non-UK nationals to be detained potentially indefinitely.

Amnesty International opposes detention under Part 4 of the ATCSA. It is detention ordered by the executive, without charge or trial, for an unspecified and potentially unlimited period of time, principally on the basis of secret evidence which the people concerned have never heard or seen, and which they were therefore unable to effectively challenge.

The organisation calls on the UK government to release all persons detained under the ATCSA unless they are charged with a recognisably criminal offence and tried by an independent and impartial court in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.

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