JCHR Press Notice 05-06 No. 20

No. 20 of Session 2005-06                        17 January 2006



The Joint Committee on Human Rights is conducting an ongoing inquiry into counter-terrorism policy and human rights.  The Committee's original terms of reference were announced by press release on 21 September 2005 (Press Notice No. 4 of Session 2005-06).

Continuing matters of interest in the inquiry
The Committee has so far published one report in this inquiry, its Third Report of Session 2005-06, Counter-Terrorism Policy and Human Rights: Terrorism Bill and related matters, HL Paper 75-I, HC Paper 561-I. In paragraph 11 of that Report the Committee gave a non-exhaustive list of issues to which it would be giving further consideration in its inquiry, namely-

• possible mechanisms whereby the judiciary could have an investigative role in relation to terrorist offences

• whether, and if so the means by which, intercept evidence could be used in courts

• proposed powers to control places of worship

• use of lethal force by police

• significant changes or additions to the Terrorism Bill or the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill made after the publication of, and not covered in, this Report, where it is appropriate, and timely to do so.

Since publication of the Committee's Report, the Government has announced that it is not proceeding with its proposed powers to control places of worship, and the Committee will therefore not be considering that matter further. The Committee would however welcome any further written evidence on the first, second, fourth and fifth bullet points above. There is no need to resubmit written evidence on any these points which has already been sent to the Committee in response to the original call for evidence. It would be helpful if any further evidence on these points could be sent to the Committee by 28 February 2006 or, in the case of amendments to the Terrorism Bill or the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill with human rights implications, as soon as possible after those amendments have been published.

The Committee is currently considering human rights issues concerning deportations with assurances and extraordinary renditions in the context of its inquiry into UK compliance with the UN Convention against Torture (see Press Notice No. 3 of this Session).

Control orders
In the context of its inquiry into counter-terrorism policy and human rights, the Committee also intends to report to Parliament on the human rights implications of any proposal made by the Government to extend the powers relating to control orders contained in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 beyond their date of expiry under that Act (11 March 2006, or 12 months after the date the Act was passed). Under section 13 of the Act, the Secretary of State may by order provide that the control order powers contained in sections 1 to 9 may continue in force for a further period not exceeding one year from the expiry date.

Under section 14(3) of the Act, Lord Carlile will report on the operation of the Act as soon as practicable after a period of 9 months has passed since the passage of the Act.

The Committee will take into account Lord Carlile's report in its own consideration of the human rights implications of the control order system. To assist it in reporting to both Houses of Parliament on this matter in time for any orders which the Home Secretary may lay before Parliament, the Committee would also welcome written evidence focusing on the human rights implications of the operation of the control orders system since it came into effect. Such evidence should be submitted by 3 February 2006. Those intending to submit evidence on this subject should note that the Committee is not permitted to consider or make recommendations relating to individual cases.

Procedure for submitting evidence
Submissions should be addressed to Nick Walker, Commons Clerk of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.  Electronic submission is acceptable, but a signed hard copy should also be sent.  In any event, witnesses are asked wherever possible to accompany hard copy by an electronic version, preferably in Word format, and e-mailed to jchr@parliament.uk.

Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed or circulated by the Committee at any stage.  You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.  Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract parliamentary privilege.

Further calls for evidence in the context of this inquiry may be issued in the light of future developments.