Blunkett Ban

The Anti-Terorrism, Crime and Security Bill is a classic piece of knee-jerk catch-all police state-ism by New Labour. It is only a little over a year since the last Terrorism Act came into force, a shameless piece of anti-civil liberties law in itself, and already being used against peaceful protestors.

The new legislation puts the Government on a head-on collision course with Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights since it will permit detention without trial. Basically, its centrepiece is intended to allow the indefinite detention of "suspects" (anyone the security services do not like). Once in detention, appeals will be allowed but only to an internal tribunal and without access to the security information that led to their arrest in the first place. Even better, the suspected terrorist could remain in prison indefinitely, subject only to six monthly reviews.

To the horror of health and legal experts, even long-established doctor-patient confidentiality is to be swept aside as police forces across the world will get unrestricted access to British medical records and bank details.

Blunkett may dismiss concerns over civil rights as the worries of "airy-fairy liberals" but his "Clause 17" makes it legal for police across the world to receive documents from public authorities whether they are relevant to a criminal investigation or not. The Bill lists documents covered by 53 different laws, the privacy of which was previously guaranteed. Under the Bill, police will be able to access them in investigating any crime anywhere in the world.

Previous British Government forays into detention without trial include internment in Northern Ireland in 1971 to help crush the IRA (didn't work and led to widespread injustice) and during the Gulf War to lock up anyone who may be linked to Iraq or to people Britain didn't like any more (you've guessed it - didn't work and led to widespread injustice)

Taken from "Direct Action", Solidarity Federation (07984 675 281)

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© Networking Newsletter (January 2002)