Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Anti-human-rights law to go to the Law Lords

What has been billed as an "anti-terror" law by British politicians and the media is, as usual, an anti-human-rights law. Somewhat parallel to the Bush administration's claims regarding prisoners in Guantánamo that were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, this law is finally to be reviewed by Britain's highest judicial authority. According to Reuters' Jeremy Lovell—

Britain's top court will decide on Thursday whether the country's draconian anti-terror law that allows foreign suspects to be locked up without trial is legal.

The House of Lords will determine the fate of nine men, some of whom have been held for three years under a law that was rushed through in a climate of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

It will be a major test of how far the government will be allowed to overrule human rights in the U.S.-led war on terror.

It is interesting that British law is said to be based on what happened in New York and Washington.

This is not the first time the matter has come up—

The government argued during a four day hearing in the House of Lords in October that the world order changed after the Sept. 11 attacks, and with it the necessary severity of measures needed to protect the nation.

"Did the attack in the United States, in New York threaten the life of the nation? Plainly, it did," Attorney General Lord Goldsmith told a panel of nine Law Lords then.

It is also interesting that supposedly sane people can sit unmoving in their robes and listen to this crap.1 The attack of 9/11 did not, by any measure that I can imagine, "threaten the life of the nation." It is the response from the U.S. government that has threatened the life of the nation.

To implement the law, Britain has had to "suspend" the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission had ruled against the government. The Court of Appeal reversed, allowing the detentions to continue. So now the case goes for a final decision by the Law Lords, Britain's "Supreme Court."

And what of the detainees? The case has become moot for some of them—

Of the men originally held, one was freed after the government decided he was no longer a threat and one after a secret tribunal ruled evidence was insufficient.

Another was moved to house arrest after the tribunal ruled his detention had driven him insane, and two agreed to leave the country voluntarily.

Of the original nine prisoners there are now four. We don't know why one of them is "no longer a threat." Perhaps he has become permanently incapacitated while in British custody, or perhaps he has been "re-educated" a la chinoise. Clearly, the two who agreed to leave "voluntarily" were not a "threat." For one prisoner the government had "insufficient" (read that "no") evidence as to why he should be held. And one has gone mad.

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold the "Free World."

Related post
Assault on Christmas continues—media fighting the good fight (updated)


1 It is on occasions such as this that the penis pump can be an indispensible judicial tool. [back]

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