Terror case poses first test to new coalition on rights and freedoms

18 May 2010

Today the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled that two men allegedly involved in a terror plot could not be deported to Pakistan. Mr. Justice Mitting said that they could not be returned as Pakistan had ‘a long…history of disappearances, illegal detention and of the torture and ill-treatment of those detained’.

Although the new Home Secretary has declined to appeal the ruling, the judgment and the continued existence of the inherited control order policy poses the first test to a new coalition that has so far wrapped itself in the language of civil liberties. The control order regime, put on the statute book in 2005, was originally opposed by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. However, the Liberal Democrats have in recent years consistently opposed the annual renewal of control orders in Parliament while the Conservatives have consistently abstained from the parliamentary vote.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

"Terror suspects should face fair trials, not secret commissions. Convicted terrorists should be sent to secure prisons, not put on planes to face torture or make more trouble elsewhere.

Anyone who thinks that sending people to torture is a good idea has learned nothing from 'extraordinary rendition' and the counter-productive war on terror."

Liberty has long criticised the failure of control orders both as a method of controlling genuinely dangerous people and protecting innocent suspects. The human rights group urges the new coalition Government to move policy away from the war on terror and towards the rule of law.

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128

NOTES TO EDITORS

Control orders were brought in by the Government under the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act after the Law Lords ruled that indefinite detention without charge for foreign terror suspects in Belmarsh prison violated their human rights.

Control orders (applicable to British and non-nationals alike) severely restrict who a person can meet, where they can go and all cases have involved electronic tagging.

Restrictions have included lengthy curfews and bans on unauthorised visitors and internet access. Control orders can last indefinitely. The person does not have to be accused of any crime and does not have to be given the evidence against them.