Anyone for TPIMs - Control Orders with a twist?

02 September 2011
Sophie Farthing, Policy Officer

On Monday afternoon MPs will be asked to pass a Bill which will continue one of the worst legacies of the ‘war on terror’ - punitive sanctions imposed on potentially innocent individuals without them ever being charged, prosecuted or sentenced for any crime.

When control orders were first rushed through in 2005 it was understood that they would be a radical but temporary derogation from democratic and criminal justice principles. If this Bill is passed we will be one step closer to the normalisation of preventative administrative detention.

This week the Government tabled a number of amendments to the Bill. A five year 'sunset clause' tabled by the Government this week will not cure the fundamental problems with the Bill; at the very least such a departure from the Rule of Law must be required to be justified on an annual basis.

When the Bill was first announced, it was widely agreed that it amounted to a ‘re-branding’ of the control order regime. The only substantive concession was the removal of provision for internal exile. Staggeringly, the Government is now proposing an amendment to the TPIMs Bill which would allow for the Home Secretary to impose 'enhanced' TPIMs while Parliament is dissolved. Accordingly the Home Secretary would be able to impose: internal relocation; isolated residence; a greater curfew power than currently provided in the Bill; and bans on leaving a locality. These measures would be able to be imposed for a 90-day period. If this amendment is passed, any substantive difference between control orders and TPIMs would entirely evaporate.

Liberty is urging all MPs to vote against this repetition of embarrassing history and to vote for amendments tabled by rebel Lib Dem and Conservative MPs which would scrap TPIMs and bring all restrictions on the liberty of terror suspects within the criminal justice bail system.