Thursday, December 16, 2004

Human Rights and Terrorism in the UK

The House of Lords, in a recent decision, renews its age old committment to the freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, which goes back to the Habeas Corpus. This is already widely considered as one of the most important decisions since the recent enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998.

UPDATE: Just to add to Lorenzo's post above [this is Scott], clearly this Lords decision has the potential to impact the Guantanamo cases here...especially if more articles touting Belmarsh as "Britain's Guantanamo".

It strikes me that the actual detentions have not upset international opinion as much as the allegations and insinuations of torture present in the "Britain's Guantanmo" article from the BBCabove as well as U.S. detainees like Hicks. The best evidence of this may be the lack of furor over French "detainees" (assuming detainee only means "someone detained") that a Washington Post article in November uncovered. According to the article:
In many countries of Europe, former inmates of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been relishing their freedom. In Spain, Denmark and Britain, recently released detainees have railed in public about their treatment at Guantanamo, winning sympathy from local politicians and newspapers. In Sweden, the government has agreed to help one Guantanamo veteran sue his American captors for damages.

Not so in France, where four prisoners from the U.S. naval base were arrested as soon as they arrived home in July, and haven't been heard from since. Under French law, they could remain locked up for as long as three years while authorities decide whether to put them on trial -- a legal limbo that their attorneys charge is not much different than what they faced at Guantanamo.

Armed with some of the strictest anti-terrorism laws and policies in Europe, the French government has aggressively targeted Islamic radicals and other people deemed a potential terrorist threat. While other Western countries debate the proper balance between security and individual rights, France has experienced scant public dissent over tactics that would be controversial, if not illegal, in the United States and some other countries.

No comments: