July 30, 2007

56 days

Labour's wish to extend the length of time people can be held without charge, again, has been blocked by Parliament. Certainly a good thing, but it will be back. The governments current power to hold people indefinitely under house arrest without them being able to see the evidence against them was also critised.

The committee's report said "no right-minded person" would think the suspects had a fair hearing when they often had no idea of the case against them.

It likened the system to the Star Chamber, a secretive and oppressive English court abolished in 1641.

"This is a process that is offensive both to the basic principles of natural justice as we know it and to British ideas of fair play," said Andrew Dinsmore, chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

So far the power that the government has already has proved perfectly than adequate. Back when the IRA was active the maximum length that people could be held without charge was a mere 2 days, rising to 5 days but only with the special permission of the Home Secretary. Yet that campaign was far more prolonged, effective, and competent than the current Islamic threat including two attacks on the very heart of the government of the time. Given their record had it been Labour in power when the mortars fell on Downing Street, or their hotel was demolished, we would most likely have been under martial law shortly afterward.


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