Government has failed to make case for extending detention of terror suspects

By staff writers
October 31, 2007

The UK government has not made a convincing case for extending the time suspected terrorists can be detained without charge, according to the Church of England.

None of the options put forward for increasing the period beyond 28 days (itself a quadrupling of the seven days that applied for over a quarter of a century) are satisfactory, the Church says in its response to the Home Office paper Options for pre-charge detention in terrorist cases.

The government's paper was published at the end of July this year.

“While acknowledging the real difficulties for counter-terrorist action which the paper raises,” says the response from the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, “we do not believe that the case for an extension of the maximum period of pre-charge detention has yet been made out. We do not find any of the four options satisfactory in the form in which they are set out here, and we await the presentation of a case for specific change based on clear evidence rather than conjecture.”

“It is highly desirable that such measures should not be enacted in a hasty or adversarial manner,” it says and adds, “the contention that liberty and security stand in conflict with one another, and any consequent remedies to resolve the conflict, must be justified by convincing evidence and rigorous argument.”

On the Home Office’s option of extending the limit on pre-charge detention with additional safeguards for the period beyond 28 days, the response argues that the case has not yet been made and must be specific both in terms of the maximum period and the justification for it. “Procedural safeguards,” it says, “cannot compensate for deficiencies in the criteria for detention.”

Anyone wishing to respond to the government's paper 'Options for pre-charge detention in terrorist cases' can email them to:

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