JCHR Press Notice 07-08 No 19

PRESS NOTICE

Report is available on the internet today and in hard-copy on Monday 25 February 2008 at 10:00

CONTROL ORDERS REGIME MUST BE REFORMED, SAYS COMMITTEE.

NO-ONE SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO A CONTROL ORDER INDEFINITELY:
LIMIT ON LENGTH OF DAILY CURFEW SHOULD NOT EXCEED 12 HOURS.

In a report released today, ahead of the debate in the House of Commons tomorrow on the renewal of the control order regime, the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights calls for major changes to the control orders legislation.

The Committee has discovered that seven of the current 15 individuals subject to control orders have been in this position for more than two years and two individuals have been on control orders for almost three years, since the powers were introduced. It is likely that these two individuals were also detained in Belmarsh under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 before that, a total of six years detention without trial.

in favour of a maximum limit on the duration of a control order and will be proposing an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Bill to enable this issue to be debated in Parliament.

Committee Chair Andrew Dismore MP said: €œit is clearly inhumane to subject someone to a highly-restrictive control order for years on end, seemingly without any prospect of them being prosecuted or subject to another exit strategy. A maximum limit would concentrate the minds of the investigatory and enforcement authorities on finding the evidence needed for prosecution within a reasonable time. We should seek to prosecute people for terrorism, not subject them to a form of house arrest. We do not want to create Guantanamo martyrs on British soil€.

The Committee also calls for a limit on the duration of the daily curfew imposed by control orders of 12 hours. This follows a House of Lords judgment in which an 18 hour detention period was found to be a breach of human rights.

Committee Chair Andrew Dismore MP said: €œthe people subject to control orders have not been charged with a criminal offence, never mind convicted. They are not even made fully aware of the reasons for the control order. I accept there may well be good grounds for control orders in some cases, but control orders should not be used to deprive people of liberty without a fair hearing or, better still, being put on trial and convicted. A shorter daily curfew and a maximum limit on the duration of a control order are essential to ensure that control orders are both legal and also do not undermine respect for the rule of law in this country€.

The Committee also recommends detailed amendments to the control order regime and criticises the adequacy of the arrangements for parliamentary scrutiny of the operation of control orders. /ENDS