Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill

Joint Statement

* We believe that the speed that this Bill is being rushed through
Parliament is damaging to democracy, is likely to result in mistakes and
unintended consequences and prevents Parliament from taking advantage of the
extensive knowledge and experience of our respective bodies.

* We have concerns about the proposal to derogate from the European
Convention on Human Rights, particularly in respect of Article 5, the
prohibition on arbitrary detention, as there is no declared public emergency
threatening the life of the nation at this time. An alternative to
prolonged detention without trial would be to take universal jurisdiction
over terrorist cases so as to close any jurisdictional gap and allow
prosecution in the UK.

* It is wrong in principle to detain a person unless there is a
reasonable suspicion of their having committed a criminal offence and they
are brought before a criminal court within a reasonable period of time.

* It is essential that the provisions of the Bill will be subject to
proper judicial scrutiny rather than solely through a special tribunal. We
are concerned that although detainees will have access to the already
existing Special Immigration Appeals Commission, this process does not give
the detainee and his or her lawyer an entitlement to see all the evidence,
which forms the basis of the suspicion against them and that the appeal
panel will have to exclude them from the court whilst it hears this excluded
evidence. In addition the Bill will mean that it will be possible to detain
suspected international terrorists without having to have sufficient
evidence against them beyond reasonable doubt, the presumption of innocence
will not apply and the usual quality checks on the evidence will be not be
in operation.

* It is contrary to the traditional constitutional protections in the
United Kingdom to remove the rights of judicial review and habeas corpus
from those detained.

* We are also concerned about the fact that this Bill significantly
alters the existing asylum determination process by excluding whole
categories of people from proper consideration. These changes raise a real
risk that protection could be denied to deserving cases.

This statement represents a consensus of views of the following
organisations, some of whose remit is confined to particular subjects:

Medical Foundation for the Care of the Victims of Torture
The Law Society
Immigration Law Practitioners Association
Refugee Legal Centre

Medical Foundation for Care of Victims of Torture - Sherman Carroll - 7813 4540 (Fri/Sat); 07956 240466
Refugee Legal Centre - Barry Stoyle, director 07815 064 775.
Liberty - Roger Bingham 07973 831128

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