I nternment is always a measure that carries a heavy cost as shown in Northern Ireland. From the domestic perspective, we are chipping away at the values that make Britain a place worth defending. From the enemy viewpoint we are justifying
the accusations of oppression that underpin the reason for the war in the first place. I hope the politicians are up to the job of weighing the costs against the benefits.
Anyway from the Telegraph :
Emergency powers to imprison suspected international terrorists indefinitely, using special courts closed to the public and press, will be announced this week. The wartime measure, which will require an exemption from human rights legislation,
will be used to round up about 20 suspects hiding in Britain and beyond the reach of existing laws.
A High Court judge will conduct trials which will be held in camera and those found to be involved in terrorism will be sent to high-security prisons. Evidence will be given in private by officers of the security and intelligence services and
there will be no jury.
The powers of detention are aimed at terrorists who have committed no crime in Britain but are wanted for acts committed overseas. Most are believed to have sought haven in the UK knowing that human rights laws mean that they cannot be extradited.
David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will announce the move on Tuesday when he publishes the Emergency Anti-Terrorism Bill containing a series of tough security measures drawn up in response to the attacks of September 11.
The Bill is to be rushed through the Commons in a week and will become law before Christmas. Britain will declare "a state of public emergency" tomorrow, a legal formality which does not mean that there is any imminent terrorist threat.
It is required before the Government can seek a temporary exemption from article five of the European Convention on Human Rights which prevents detention without trial.
Blunkett's plans will partly meet concerns expressed by civil liberties campaigners who feared that a form of internment would be used to round up suspected Islamic terrorists. The proposal is significantly different to internment, where individuals
are detained without trial and which was judged to have caused severe tensions when used in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. The trials will be classed as special immigration appeals.
Suspects will be given legal representation and will be allowed to appeal against decisions. They will be blocked, however, from seeking judicial review which has been exploited as a device to string out extradition cases over many years. Rather
than being sentenced to a fixed prison term, the terrorists will be held in prison until they can convince a court that they are not a potential threat.
They will then be released if they can identify a safe country which is willing to accept them, after which they would be deported. There are about 20 individuals in Britain identified by MI6 and MI5 as being involved in terrorism overseas.
Most are wanted for specific crimes but cannot be sent for trial because British human rights laws forbid extradition to countries which use torture or impose the death penalty.
Blunkett will also speed up the lengthy process for deporting dozens of terrorists and their supporters harboured in Britain.
Other measures to be published in the Bill include:
Laws to stop supporters in Britain conspiring with terrorists abroad or providing them with funds or goods.
Requirements on airlines and shipping companies to provide information on passengers and freight.
- Tighter security at airports and on aircraft.
- Extending laws against inciting racial hatred to include religious hatred. Maximum penalty raised from two to seven years