From 'War' to law?

18 September 2010
Press Officer

When the Home Secretary invited Liberty to contribute to Government’s long overdue review of counter-terror measures, we were happy to oblige.

Our response, entitled From 'War' to Law (PDF), draws together all of Liberty’s concerns over excessive and unjustified counter-terror measures introduced since the advent of the “War on Terror”, with control orders at the top of the list of internationally embarrassing assaults on fundamental human rights.

The response which was submitted to the Home Office on 11 August and released to the public shortly afterwards urged the Home Secretary to:

  • Scrap the unfair and unsafe control order house arrest regime which has not enhanced national security but cost the taxpayer £13 million over three years.
  • Revise the Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime so that it no longer targets those who have never been arrested, charged or convicted in relation to a terrorism offence.
  • Overhaul Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 so that exceptional stop and search powers without reasonable suspicion may be justified only in very limited circumstances. Thoroughly review RIPA surveillance powers and look at restricting their use to law enforcement agencies.
  • Respect the rule against torture in deportation policy and urge countries in receipt of British aid, trade and security cooperation to refrain from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.
  • Define restrictions on free speech and association (aimed at terrorist organisations) more tightly.
  • Reduce the pre-charge detention period for terror suspects

Taking these crucial steps would allow Britain to rebuild a national security policy that protects all of society from terrorist attacks and equally protects our hard won rights and freedoms.

Now that we have presented our case to Government, the coalition partners have a once in a lifetime chance to reverse the worst excesses of Britain’s “War on Terror” and debunk the myth that freedom is a legitimate casualty in times of threat.