New campaign warns against “sleepwalking” into 42-day detention
Check www.protectthehuman.com for the latest on Amnesty International’s campaign against UK government plans to give itself the right to detain people for 42 days without charge.
In “Don’t Get Fooled Again” I look at what can happen when governments demand ever more ‘sweeping new powers’ to curb basic freedoms in the name of security.
Having lost a loved one to terrorism I have no truck with people who think they have the right to kill and maim in pursuit of their favourite political cause. But neither do I have much patience with politicians who seek to exploit public fears by eroding vital checks on state power, and driving through authoritarian laws that will do nothing to make us safer.
The government likes to talk about ‘balancing’ the rights of the individual against perceived risks to public security from suspected terrorists. But there’s surely another ‘risk’ that needs to be brought into this equation – the risk to the public from state employees who seek to abuse the new powers that they have been given.
This is actually happening already with the state’s existing and extensive powers to bug, jail and evade scrutiny. Examples include the Sally Murrer case (which is related to the Sadiq Khan case in ways that still aren’t entirely clear), the prosecution of Maya Evans, the withholding, on the bogus pretext of “national security”, of a damning police report into the Foreign Office’s handling of the Julie Ward murder inquiry , and the attempt to censor ex-Ambassador Craig Murray’s book “Murder in Samarkand” on the basis that his quoting of his own words would constitute a breach of ‘crown copyright’.
If we give the government the right to impose a 42-day prison sentence (more than the typical tariff for receiving stolen goods) on people who have been neither charged nor convicted of any crime, it seems inevitable that this too will be abused for questionable political purposes.