Thu, 24 May 2007
Three suspects subject to control orders have disappeared.
in the Commons is well worth reading in full. Here are a few extracts:
John Reid answering Dominic Grieve:
Unfortunately, within the limits of the existing
legal framework, it is
very difficult to prevent determined individuals from absconding.
Nevertheless, I intend to do several things. First, I am already
appealing to the House of Lords in several other control order cases
about the interpretation of article 5 of the European convention on
human rights on deprivation of liberty. We will consider other
options—including derogation—if we have exhausted ways of overturning
previous judgments on the issue.
The Home Secretary has hinted that draconian new
powers are needed, yet
the existing powers extend to house arrest, if the Government decide
that there is such an emergency that that is justified. It is for the
Government to determine whether there is a state of emergency. Is the
Home Secretary saying that he will come to the House and say that there
is an emergency in which the state is threatened? If so, when will he
do that? Is it not the case that unless he does that, there is no
possibility whatever of imposing derogating control orders, as they
would simply be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European
convention on human rights?
In an earlier analysis
Justice reminds us that:
The United Kingdom may derogate from Article 5 of the
Convention of Human Rights (“ECHR”) only:
(a) in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of
the nation; and
(b) to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation;
(c) to the extent that such measures are not inconsistent with its
other obligations under international law
(ECHR Article 15; cf. Human Rights Act 1998, section 14).
John Reid answering Jeremy Browne:
Let me deal first with the question of intercept
evidence in court. We
have been looking at that for a considerable time, and both Opposition
Front-Bench teams know that the disadvantages so far outweigh the
advantages that what they are suggesting meets with complete opposition
from our security and intelligence services.
I have great sympathy with my right hon. Friend,
because the control
order regime is clearly a very imperfect way of trying to deal with the
problem, but I hope that he will not adopt the route of derogation. He
said that he saw control orders as not even the second-best option.
Perhaps he will tell us what he thinks is the best option. Does he
agree with the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which I chair, that the
best option is prosecution? We are concerned about the fact that the
existing control order detainees are not subject to continual review to
establish whether there is enough evidence to prosecute them. Last
summer we recommended a series of ways of making make prosecution
easier, one of which was the conversion of intelligence into evidence
through the use of intercept. I heard what my right hon. Friend had to
say about that, but the police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and
the Attorney-General have said that they consider it an important
weapon that would significantly strengthen their ability to prosecute.
I hope that before my right hon. Friend presents his proposals he will
give serious consideration to the Committee’s recommendations,
including that one.
John Reid answering Andrew Dismore:
I repeat that we always want to prosecute when there
is a level of
evidence that is sufficient to reach the threshold for prosecution.
That is self-evident, but it is not the question. The question is: how
do we tackle terrorist suspects when we do not have a sufficient
threshold of evidence to charge, but have sufficient information to be
alerted, through the intelligence and other services, to the fact that
they may be preparing to commit an act of wholesale human destruction?
The Government is not asking for the
tools that it needs to build a case strong enough to bring to trial
suspects—and intercept evidence is used in other countries—but it
is using its own failure to deal with three individuals it claims are a
serious threat to justify removing some of our essential human
now to ensure the UK doesn't derogate from Article
of the European Convention on Human Rights, the
right to liberty and security.
The UK Liberty blog has a good analysis at Three control order subjects
have absconded and Reid calls for more power
Note also that all the mentions about the Chahal case are completely
irrelevant as it applies to foreign nationals and the three individuals
at large are British.