Joint statement by five groups on UK Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill


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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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