UK to reduce pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects


London : Britain’s Conservative-led coalition government is to half the detention period of terrorist suspects without charge back to 14 days, Home Office Minister Damian Green confirmed Thursday.

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Green told MPs that powers allowing terror suspects to be held for 28 days without charge will be allowed to lapse next Tuesday, returning to a two-week limit.

In 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government unsuccessfully attempted to extent pre-charge detentions up 90 days, marking his first parliamentary defeat.

Since coming to power last year, the coalition has pledged to review of counter-terrorism and security powers, due to the erosion of civil liberties.

Green said the government was clear that ‘the power to detain terrorist suspects for up to 28 days before they were charged or released was meant to be an exceptional power’, although d it ‘became the norm’ under Labour.

He said that Home Secretary Theresa May is due to set out the government’s ‘detailed considerations’ on anti-terror measures next Wednesday.

The government has so far set aside sweeping “stop and search” powers given to the police under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and is to announce how it will change control orders that have been declared illegal.

Last year, Amnesty International called for sweeping changes to Britain’s terror laws, including ending so-called “diplomatic assurance” deals in the deportation of foreign nationals.

“Scrapping the worst measures will signal that the UK is prepared to play its part in defending human rights as well as countering terrorism,” said head of Amnesty’s UK Policy and Government Affairs Jeremy Croft.

Croft said he hoped that May’s review of terror laws enacted in the past 10 years will “put the UK back on the right road on human rights.”