Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The answer is 42...

When our MPs vote today on locking up suspected terrorists for up to 42-days without charge, I hope they will put party interests aside and vote for what is right to protect all of us.

It is sad that cross-party concensus has collapsed on a crucial issue of national security.

Those against 42-days detention cite erosion of individual human rights of suspected terrorists. But this is nothing like, for instance, the abomination of Guantanamo Bay where people were caged like animals for years without charge and with little regard for their basic human rights.

On the extremely rare occasions it is envisaged that our police need to hold terror suspects for more than 28 days before charge, they will have to go through a whole series of hoops and protections for the suspect.

But this is surely much bigger than individuals. It's about protecting us all from the very serious threat of terror attacks. We must give our security forces the time they need to do their job and prevent another 7/7 or worse a 9/11 in Britain.

Peter Clarke who was until recently head of Scotland Yard's counter terrorism unit says 42 days is about protecting the public, and that we should legislate now, not in an emergency.

Former Met Chief Lord Stevens, backs 42 days. Lord Stevens has been an adviser to David Cameron and even headed a Conservative Policy task force for the Tory Leader.

The latest YouGov poll in today's Daily Telegraph shows almost three out of four people (69 per cent) support raising the detention limit from 28 days to 42 days 'in exceptional circumstances'.
Even Conservative Home, the so-called grassroots voice of Tories has today backed 42 days.

I believe those against 42 days - whether Labour rebels, David Cameron or the LibDems are wrong.

I hope my MP - Conservative John Hayes - and all those currently against 42 days will see sense at the eleventh hour, and vote today to put our country first.


Anonymous said...

Party principals to one side hey?

Is that why people are preparing to support the government in exchange for more money in Northern Ireland and extra funding for their constituencies?

fairdealphil said...

If there was no Opposition whip, do you really think that Tory backbenchers would vote against 42days...?

Rob Shorrock said...

Why not 49 days or 56 or why not an indeterminant length? As you say, Guantanomo Bay is far worse but lets not use this as the reference point here for the way we pursue the law and protect the rights of citizens - it lacks any credibility.

The case for 42 days lacks evidence and panders to crass populism (The Sun!) poor intelligence and poor policing. Internment in Northern Irelend was a popular move in the UK but in the end it lacked justice, purpose and ultimately made a bad situation worse.

Where do you draw the line and what evidence do you base you assertions on that 42 days is right?

fairdealphil said...

Hi Rob,

Good to hear from you. Hope you are well.

We probably agree on Guantanamo Bay, but clearly not on 42 days.

Is 42 days right...?

For me, and maybe others, it could have been longer.

What period would you support Rob...surely we both agree there is a balance to be struck between personal liberty and the need to protect us all from terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and 7/7...

While I respect the DUP who know more than a bit about terrorism, I don't accept that 42 days is anywhere near the most recent experience of internment in NI.

Interesting that under a Tory (Ted Heath) Government, 300 people were rounded in dawn raids before internment powers were actually announced - not even a debate in Parliament.

They were locked up for an average of two years - without any suggestion of a charge, never mind a trial.

I would suggest that 42 days while the security forces accumulate the evidence - with a whole series of safeguards to the individual - does not bear any comparison.

Interesting that it was a Tory Government that re-introduced internment in Northern Ireland - I believe it was previously used in the earlier troubles of the 1950s.

Internment was supported by Jim Callaghan, then Shadow Home Secretary, when it was introduced, (he didn't call a by-election!!!)

Of course, it was a Labour Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, who finally repealed it.

Just as I am against Guantanamo, I am against internment.

But for 42 days - and longer for terror suspects - in rare and exceptional cases...

fairdealphil said...

In my 9.16 comment, I said average time in internment measures brought in across Northern Ireland in 1971 was two years.

I've re-checked my sources and in fact the average was two years under internment brought in across NI in the 1950s.

I can't actually source an average term of imprisonment under the 1971 measures - but my substantive point remains that internment was about rounding up and jailing hundreds of suspects without trial or charge.

42-days is about extraordinary circumstance in extremely rare individual cases.

Very different.