Liberty launches “Charge or Release” campaign to halt Government plans to extend pre-charge terror detention

30 November 2007

Liberty is mobilising its members, the public and politicians to oppose any extension beyond the current 28-day detention period, which is nearly four times longer than that of most comparable democracies.
Liberty’s Charge or Release campaign adverts which compare pre-charge detention periods in 15 democracies will run in national newspapers from today and be displayed on billboards across London. See for more information.
Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said:
“Liberty calls on all those who believe that individuals must be thought innocent until proven guilty to join our Charge or Release campaign so that months of detention without charge never become reality in Britain. Extending pre-charge detention will be dangerously counter-productive by targeting the very communities whose help is needed to fight extremism.”
In the coming months Liberty will also distribute a Charge or Release viral film featuring Vivienne Westwood and Channel 4 Britz star Riz Ahmed.

Contact: Jen Corlew on 0207 378 3656 or 0797 3 831 128

Notes to Editors
1. Liberty has called on the Government to implement less controversial anti-terror measures instead of extending pre-charge detention, including:
• Remove the bar on the use of intercept (phone tap) evidence because its inadmissibility is a major factor in being unable to bring charges in terror cases. Liberty has given evidence to the Government’s Privy Council review on intercept evidence.
• Allow post-charge questioning in terror cases provided that the initial charge is legitimate and there is judicial oversight. This will allow for a charge to be replaced with a more appropriate offence at a later stage.
• Hire more interpreters: Prioritise the hiring of more foreign language interpreters to expedite pre-charge questioning and other procedures.
• Add resources: More resources for police and intelligence services.
• Emergency measures in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 could be triggered in a genuine emergency in which the police are overwhelmed by multiple terror plots, allowing the Government to temporarily extend pre-charge detention subject to Parliamentary and judicial oversight.
2. The Government is proposing to include powers to extend pre-charge detention beyond the current 28 day limit in an anti-terror bill to be published soon.
3. On 12 November 2007, Liberty published a comprehensive study of terrorist pre-charge detention powers in 15 countries, including the United States, Spain, Russia, France and Turkey. The study, based on advice and assistance from lawyers and academics around the world, demonstrates that the existing 28-day limit already far exceeds equivalent limits in other comparable democracies.