Joint Committee On Human Rights Fifth Report


1. Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary


The Joint Committee on Human Rights ('the JCHR') is embarking on an inquiry into the human rights implications of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 ('the Act') as it is currently operating. Over the course of the next year or so, the JCHR will considering the human rights implications of the Act as a whole. The first stage is to consider the implications of the detention provisions under sections 21 to 23 in the light of the derogation from the right to liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights ('the ECHR') and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ('the ICCPR').[45] You have today laid before Parliament a draft order under section 29 of the Act, extending the life of Sections 21 to 23 of the Act. The JCHR is therefore preparing to report to each House on the human rights implications of sections 21 to 23, including the derogation from Article 5 of the ECHR in respect of those provisions, as a matter of urgency.

In the light of this, the Committee would be grateful for information from you about the following matters—

1.  What is your assessment of the current nature and seriousness of the threat to the United Kingdom from international terrorism?

2.  How may people are, or have been, detained under sections 21 to 23 of the Act; what are the periods for which they have been detained; what was the general nature of the information giving rise to reasonable suspicion that they are international terrorists; what are the methods used to keep under review the justifications for their detention; how many detainees (if any) have been released, and what were the reasons for releasing them?

3.  What is your assessment of the effectiveness of the detention of the detainees in helping to combat the threat from terrorism in the United Kingdom or elsewhere?

4.  What are the methods by which the Government is keeping under review the factors on which the United Kingdom relied when giving notice of its derogations from the right to liberty under the ECHR and the ICCPR?

5.  Why, in the Government's view, it is necessary for the detention provisions to continue in force after the first renewal date in March?

6.  Are there any other matters which in your view are relevant to the justification for allowing the detention provisions to continue in force?

7.  What are the reasons for the Government's view, in November 2001, that it was appropriate to make a derogation order under section 14 of the Human Rights Act 1998 in respect of measures which had not yet been laid before Parliament or published?

The Committee would be grateful for a reply by 31 January or as soon as possible thereafter.

23 January 2003

45   Joint Committee on Human Rights, Fifth Report of 2001-02, Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill: Further Report, HL Paper 51, HC 420, p. x, para. 20 Back

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