UK: Scrap internment, as Parliament prepares to debate anti-terror legislation

The human rights organisation also warned that the UK was effectively giving a green light to torturers by potentially relying on evidence extracted under torture.

Amnesty International UK Media Director Lesley Warner said: 'Extraordinarily, in the face of universal condemnation - including the Government's own review committee headed by Lord Newton - the UK Home Secretary has talked, not of repealing the internment provisions, but instead of widening them to cover UK nationals too.

'The Home Secretary's reported new proposals are an aberration of justice, the rule of law and human rights.' Amnesty International is urging Members of both Houses of Parliament this week to put an end to a system that holds some individuals outside of the rule of law, urging that they vote against renewal of Part 4 of the ATCSA which permits indefinite detention of non-UK citizens without charge or trial, principally on the basis of secret evidence.

Lesley Warner continued:

'Surely some lessons must be learnt from the experiences of the five Britons soon to be returned from Guantánamo Bay whom Mr Blunkett has reportedly said will not 'actually be a threat to the security of the British people'. Like those held under Part 4 of the ATCSA, these individuals have been incarcerated in a judicial vacuum for two years, unable to challenge their detention or assert their innocence.

'Part 4 should be repealed. 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,' Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International is also deeply concerned at the executive's and judiciary's willingness to rely on evidence extracted under torture.

'By indicating that they are prepared to rely on evidence extracted under torture, the UK legal process has effectively given a green light to torturers. Using evidence tainted by allegations of torture is contrary to any notion of justice and respect for the law,' concluded Lesley Warner.

Background

Under the ATCSA, non-UK nationals, who cannot be deported from the country, can be certified as 'suspected international terrorists' by the Secretary of State and immediately detained without charge or trial for an unspecified and potentially unlimited period of time, principally on the basis of secret evidence. At the end of 2003, the Home Secretary had certified 17 people as 'suspected international terrorists' of whom 14 remain in detention under the ATCSA in high security establishments in the UK.

Earlier this month Amnesty International expressed extreme concern over the Home Secretary's suggestions for new measures in the name of 'combating terrorism'. The organisation pointed out that if implemented, these measures would dispense with justice, the rule of law and human rights in the UK.

In its latest report UK: Justice Perverted under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 Amnesty International urged the UK authorities to repeal Part 4 of this legislation and ensure the same legal safeguards for all individuals regardless of their origin. The report is available online.

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