Top British court condemns holding terrorist suspects without charge
December 16, 2004
LONDON – Britain’s highest court on Thursday harshly condemned one of the most hotly disputed elements of the country’s anti-terrorist strategy – a law allowing some foreign suspects to be locked up indefinitely with no charge.
The government, however, said 11 suspects in detention under the disputed provision of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act were dangerous and would stay in prison until it decides what to do about the ruling.
Critics had argued that the detentions, some of which have lasted for three years, were a gross human rights violation. In a powerfully worded 8-1 decision, the judges agreed, saying the law is disproportionate and discriminates against immigrants and foreigners.
“Nothing could be more antithetical to the instincts and traditions of the people of the United Kingdom” than indefinite detentions without charge or trial, wrote Lord Hoffman, one of a nine-judge panel in the House of Lords.
“The real threat to the life of the nation … comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve,” he wrote.