Joint Committee On Human Rights Nineteenth Report


The Committee has published several Reports dealing with human rights concerns raised by counter-terrorism policy. Although very critical in the past of aspects of Government policy, the Committee welcomes the recent significant change of approach and tone in Government pronouncements on counter-terrorism. This report focuses on the Government's main new proposals and a number of other issues (paragraphs 1- 13).

Recent Ministerial statements envisage an increase from 28 days in pre-trial detention limits. The Committee is not convinced of the need for this and recommends thorough scrutiny of the evidence, stronger judicial safeguards and improved parliamentary oversight. The Committee considers that there should be an upper limit on pre-charge detention and that Parliament, not the courts, should decide that limit after considering all the evidence (paragraphs 14 - 57).

The Committee recommends improved conditions of pre-charge detention, including a better-designed replacement for Paddington Green police station (paragraphs 58 - 98).

The Committee welcomes in principle the Government's review of the use of intercept as evidence. It remains convinced that the ability to use it would help bring more prosecutions against terrorists. It makes recommendations on implementation and considers that the law of public interest immunity would protect the public interest in non-disclosure (paragraphs 99 - 155).

The Committee makes recommendations on other alternatives to extending pre-charge detention, notably post-charge questioning (paragraphs 156 - 175).

The Committee believes that the Special Advocate system does not afford the individual a fair hearing and recommends changes (paragraphs 176 - 205).

The Committee may return to its concerns over control orders once the House of Lords gives judgment in cases pending. Following her predecessor's reference to the possibility of derogation from the right to liberty, the Committee awaits a response from the Home Secretary to its request for clarification of the Government's view of the level of threat from terrorism (paragraphs 206 - 210).

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Prepared 30 July 2007