The government seem to be obsessed with being able to hold people without charge for as long as possible! The latest development came today with a release of the concessions made on the bill. They want to be able to hold people for 42 days after the rebellion over the 90 day issue, although they’re conceding that it can only happen for 30 days after a significant event of grave danger, to be decided by the government. A couple of points.
Surely if they’re holding these people for 42 days, they’re going to be extracting information from them, which may lead to further arrests, for 42 days, so in order for it to be most effective, shouldn’t this power last for 42 days after any significant event? Otherwise they could get information about somebody on the 31st day, arrest them but only be able to hold them for 28 days or whatever the current limit is, which according to the government isn’t enough time to be able to form a case against them! It’s like they haven’t even thought about what they really need, they’re just making concessions so it’ll get through Parliament next week.
This further leads me to believe that they don’t really need to hold the suspects for this long anyway. Remember that, if I’m not mistaken, 28 days is already the longest period in any democracy in the world you can be held without charge.
According to this chart which I think I remember first seeing on a campaign group’s website, even in the gungho US of A you can only be held for 2 days without charge, and they’re all terrified of these darkie muslims invading their good Christian conservative way of life! And in Turkey, with all its charges of human rights abuses, only holds suspects for up to 7 and a half days! Which begs the question, why exactly do we need a 42 day limit? Is our terrorist threat that much more serious than these other countries?
Anyone who’s ever studied the UK political system will know that a lot of it relies on tradition, custom and convention, as well as the good will of those in power. Now I’m not suggesting that the current government would use this law to arrest political rivals or protestors, but how exactly do they define the term ‘terrorist’? We have no entrenched bill of rights, no codified constitution, and as a result, the electorate is the only conservative force which keeps the government from doing whatever it wants, and we all know that it only takes the government to call marshall law for that force to evaporate, and then where would we be? The system is open to abuse and until we have certain guarantees, I don’t think we should be poking any more holes in our civil liberties. Even with its concessions, this law, alongside the stop and search laws and ID cards, is one step away from an Orwellian state.