July 11, 2007

The Erosion of Habeas Corpus

It seems to have slipped under the radar but today Labour's legislation for 28 days detention without charge was renewed. It wasn't the first time that this kind of liberty destroying legislation has been quietly renewed, of the acts in the last 60 years that have eroded our right to trial 4 have been quiet renewals of this kind. I've graphed the results of these acts and the result is striking.

Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974 - 2 days
Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 - 2 days
Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 - 2 days
Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 - 2 days
The Terrorism Act 2000 - 7 days
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 - 14 days
The Criminal Justice Act 2006 - 28 days

All of the increases occurred while Labour was in power. The Acts of 1984 and 1989 refined the various restrictions but kept the number of days people could be held the same, it was the 1974, 2000, 2003, and 2006 Acts which extended it. Before internment comes up a a claim that the Conservatives are just as bad the Conservatives never instigated internment, it was signed off by the Ulster Unionist Party, and it was Labour's policy that introduced internment in HMP Belmarsh between 2001 and 2004 and then under the continuing power to jail people in their own homes, without any recourse to a trial worthy of the name, under Control Orders.

It should also be noted that the steady doubling of the time people can be held that has happened in this period of Labour power started before 9/11 with The Terrorism Act 2000. Labour's authoritarianism is not a just simple (over) reaction to Islamist terrorism (just as Islamist terrorism is not just a simple reaction to the West). Nor was it a reaction to IRA terrorism like the various Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Acts, the IRA was dormant at the time following the Good Friday Agreement.

Since Coming to power in 1997 Labour have doubled the length of time people can be held before being charged three times resulting in a 1400% increase. Given this trend I believe that there will be another extension to detention without trial before the next general election. I expect they will be again trying to get 90 days but result in a compromise of probably about 60 days.


Blogger pommygranate said...

you could argue that an extension from 2 days is needed.

10:12 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 1974 Act was written when the Tories were in power, although they didn't have time to introduce it: Labour passed it essentially unchanged.

Chris Williams

4:10 pm  
Blogger chris said...

But they didn't have to pass the 1974 Act at all, there was no obligation. They could have just dropped, it along with many other bills that had been written but not gone before parliament when the change of government happened, and used the parliamentary time for something else. Alternatively they given it a bit of scrutiny and droped the worst sections. This is what parliament is for after all, to scrutinise bad legislation and stop it going on the statute books. However they chose not to and so did enact those laws.

10:04 am  
Blogger Neil Harding said...

"This is what parliament is for after all, to scrutinise bad legislation and stop it going on the statute books"

If only this was true..

Parliament is about parties and the party in government usually gets it MPs to rubber stamp whatever it wants, the Tories are the best example of lobby fodder - always have been, always will be. Labour have never been good at supressing their MPs independence. This is the most rebellious parliament for 150 years.

10:27 am  
Blogger chris said...

The rebelliousness of this parliament is a very good thing, if only it where even more so as they have still let loads of terrible laws onto the books.

6:35 pm  

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