WDIE Masthead

Year 2005 No. 30, February 24, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

No to Fascisation of the State!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

No to Fascisation of the State!

May the Government Be Damned for It

Judicial Confirmation Does Not Constitute A Fair Trial

Public Meeting:
The New 'Anti-Terror' Laws:Taking Liberties

Families Protest against British Inquiries Bill

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No to Fascisation of the State!

A further "Prevention of Terrorism Bill" to add to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Terrorism Act 2000, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, not to mention the whole panoply of Acts which criminalise the struggles of the organised working class and the asylum legislation which dehumanises and criminalises immigrants.

This is what Home Secretary Charles Clarke and the government are now proposing to rush through parliament. This is the government’s response to the Law Lords’ condemnation of indefinite detention without trial of foreign nationals. This is the further draconian legislation aimed to legalise the state’s arbitrary powers, its rule by exception, its phoney "war on terror", under the pretext of taking appropriate measures to defend security.

Tony Blair puts forward the absurd argument that the greatest "civil liberty" is the right to live "free from terrorist attack". He warns of the danger of "terrorism without limit" during the expected election campaign. How Hitlerite to warn, using the Nazi argument, of an external unknown danger to suppress and criminalise dissent, to tear up national and international norms of human rights.

So now we are to have house arrest without charge or trial for British as well as foreign nationals, as well as curfews or restrictions on use of telephones and the internet, and tagging. According to Clarke, the government is considering "the scope for new offences including that of being concerned in the commission, instigation or preparation of terrorist acts" and "other measures" to help police "bring more cases to court". He is being "forced to act on terror".

The working class and people must beware and condemn and organise against this growing fascism which is being prepared to usher in New Labour’s "radical third term".

Article Index

May the Government Be Damned for It

Speech by Mr Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch) (Lab) during the debate in the House of Commons on the Second Reading of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill (taken from Hansard for 23 Feb 2005:

As this will almost certainly be my last speech in Parliament, I shall try hard not to upset anyone. However, our debate here tonight is a grim reminder of how the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are betraying some of Labour's most cherished beliefs. Not content with tossing aside the ideas and ideals that inspire and inform ideology, they seem to be giving up on values too. Liberty, without which democracy has no meaning, and the rule of law, without which state power cannot be contained, look to Parliament for their protection, but this Parliament, sad to say, is failing the nation badly. It is not just the Government but Back-Bench Members who are to blame. It seems that in situations such as this, politics become incompatible with conscience, principle, decency and self-respect. Regrettably, in such situations, the desire for power and position predominates.

As we move towards a system of justice that found favour with the South African Government at the time of apartheid and which parallels Burmese justice today, if hon. Members will pardon the oxymoron, I am reminded that our fathers fought and died for liberty—my own father literally—believing that these things should not happen here, and we would never allow them to happen here. But now we know better. The unthinkable, the unimaginable, is happening here.

In their defence, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary say that they are behaving tyrannically and trying to make nonsense of the House of Lords' decision in A and Others as appellants v. the Home Secretary as respondent because they are frightened, and that the rest of us would be frightened too if only we knew what they will not tell us. They preach the politics of fear and ask us to support political incarceration on demand and punishment without trial.

Sad to say, I do not trust the judgment of either our thespian Prime Minister or our Home Secretary, especially given the latter's performance at the Dispatch Box yesterday. It did not take Home Office civil servants or the secret police long to put poison in his water, did it? Paper No. 1, entitled "International Terrorism: the Threat", which the Home Secretary produced yesterday and I have read, is a putrid document if it is intended to justify the measure. Indeed, the Home Secretary dripped out bits of it and it sounded no better as he spoke than it read. Why does he insult the House? Why cannot he produce a better argument than that?

How on earth did a Labour Government get to the point of creating what was described in the House of Lords hearing as a "gulag" at Belmarsh? I remind my hon. Friends that a gulag is a black hole into which people are forcibly directed without hope of ever getting out. Despite savage criticisms by nine Law Lords in 250 paragraphs, all of which I have read and understood, about the creation of the gulag, I have heard not one word of apology from the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary. Worse, I have heard no word of apology from those Back Benchers who voted to establish the gulag.

Have we all, individually and collectively, no shame? I suppose that once one has shown contempt for liberty by voting against it in the Lobby, it becomes easier to do it a second time and after that, a third time. Thus even Members of Parliament who claim to believe in human rights vote to destroy them.

Many Members have gone nap on the matter. They voted: first, to abolish trial by jury in less serious cases; secondly, to abolish trial by jury in more serious cases; thirdly, to approve an unlawful war; fourthly, to create a gulag at Belmarsh; and fifthly, to lock up innocent people in their homes. It is truly terrifying to imagine what those Members of Parliament will vote for next.I can describe all that only as new Labour's descent into hell, which is not a place where I want to be.

I hope that—but doubt whether—ethical principles and liberal thought will triumph tonight over the lazy minds and disengaged consciences that make Labour's Whips Office look so ridiculous and our Parliament so unprincipled.

It is a foul calumny that we do today. Not since the Act of Settlement 1701 has Parliament usurped the powers of the judiciary and allowed the Executive to lock up people without trial in times of peace. May the Government be damned for it.

Article Index

Judicial Confirmation Does Not Constitute A Fair Trial

Liberty, the civil liberties organisation, writes that the "anti-terrorism" measures have done little to ensure Britain is safe and secure from terrorist attack, but much to infringe the civil liberties of those living in Britain. And the impact that they have on terrorism is questionable.

The infamous miscarriages of justice which involved Irish suspects and use of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts are a reminder of the dangers of rushed anti-terror laws which create a twin-track system delivering poor justice.

The Government's new Prevention of Terrorism Bill proposes to give the Home Secretary – rather than a judge – the power to issue Control Orders to restrict the liberty of individuals. Without any need for a trial, control orders will range from restrictions on communications to house arrest.

Commenting on the government’s Control Orders announcement in Parliament Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said on February 22:

"Belmarsh has taught us that it takes more than the fig leaf of judicial oversight to provide a fair trial. The Government may be surprised that apparent concessions have not found more friends. However the British public understand justice as involving the right to know and answer the charges and evidence against you."

Summary of the Proposals for Control Order Legislation:

  1. There are two types of Control orders – higher level (house arrest) and lower level.
  2. Only house arrest constitutes a deprivation of liberty according to the Home Office. Liberty does not share this view.

Higher Level Control Orders (house arrest):

  1. The decision to implement a higher level control order- house arrest- will be taken by the Home Secretary on the basis of secret intelligence advice (not available to the suspect).
  2. Within seven days the case is automatically referred to a High Court Judge for a ‘Judicial Conformation Procedure’.
  3. This procedure follows a SIAC type model (special advocates, closed sessions, etc).
  4. The test for Judicial Conformation is balance of probability.

Lower Level Control Orders:

  1. Lower level orders include restrictions such as electronic tagging.
  2. The Home Secretary makes the decision on the basis of secret intelligence advice (not available to the suspect).
  3. There is an appeal to a SIAC type commission.
  4. This involves special advocates, closed material, etc as before.
  5. The test is reasonable suspicion.

There is no time by which the subject must be put on trial.

  1. The Government proposes to pass the legislation but not activate the house arrest control orders until further notice.
  2. On this basis the Government believes that no derogation from human rights principles is ‘currently’ necessary.

Article Index

Public Meeting



"I have a horrible feeling that we are sinking into a police state"

George Churchill-Coleman, former head of police anti-terrorist squad during 1980s-90s

7-9pm Wednesday 2nd March 2005

Committee Room 10, House of Commons, Westminster

Hosted by Jim Dobbin MP

Speakers include Gareth Peirce, solicitor; Gillian Slovo, South-African born novelist; James Welsh, Legal Director of Liberty; Simon Hughes MP; Richard Harvey, Chair of Haldane Society; Prof. Paddy Hillyard, Queens University Belfast, author of the book "Suspect Communities – People’s Experience of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Britain", Saghir Hussein, lawyer and Stop Political Terror

Charles Clarke’s new proposals for civil ‘control orders’ on ‘terrorist suspects’ would serve political control. They would punish individuals for what they might do, not what they have done. The orders would include electronic tagging, restrictions on association, the use of phones and internet, and possible house arrest. Any breach could lead to imprisonment.

The executive nature of such powers would allow for politically motivated restrictions on individuals and their activity. Bob Marshall Andrews MP and QC described the proposals as "the most substantial extension of the state’s executive powers in 300 years." Reminiscent of Apartheid-era banning orders, they are a measure associated more with dictatorships rather than democracies.

These proposals would would require derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights. Even with a court procedure, the orders would amount to preventive detention. This would violate a fundamental principle of justice: the right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

All ‘anti-terror’ measures promote a politics of fear, especially a culture of ‘suspicion’ towards entire communities. The Home Secretary has a dilemma only in attempting to maintain the pretence of a ‘public emergency’ which warrants extraordinary measures. As Lord Hoffman said in his December judgement, however, there is no ‘state of public emergency threatening the life of the nation’ – the only basis for justifying internment, which requires an opt-out from the European Convention on Human Rights.

The government is attempting to continue its fake ‘emergency’, thus justifying further steps towards a police state. The real emergency is the threat to our rights. We say: Release the detainees! No internment! No house arrest! No politics of fear! No culture of suspicion!


The meeting is called by CAMPACC; Liberty; Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers; Kevin McNamara MP; Mark Thomas; Bill Bowring, barrister; Stop Political Terror; Voices UK; CARF; Peace and Justice in East London; Sutton for Peace and Justice; The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain; Association of Muslim Lawyers; Liberal Democrat Muslims Forum; The Green Party of England and Wales; Stop the War Coalition (STWC); Respect

For information contact: Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), http://www.cacc.org.uk, estella24@tiscali.co.uk, tel 020 7586 5892


Article Index

Families Protest against British Inquiries Bill

By Fern Lane, An Phoblacht, February 10, 2005

The family of Pat Finucane were in the House of Commons in London this week to raise awareness of their deep concerns surrounding the British government's proposed Inquiries Bill, legislation which, in its present form, threatens the viability and independence of all future public inquiries.

The family is particularly concerned that the new Bill will hand effective control of all future public inquiries to ministers, who will have sweeping powers to determine the terms of reference of any inquiries, their level of funding, and what evidence can be submitted to them.

Whilst at the House of Commons, the Finucanes also met with a number of other families who are seeking inquiries into the deaths of loved ones. Amongst them was Geoff Grey of the Armed Forces Families Justice Campaign and Maureen Kavanagh, who is campaigning for a public inquiry into the Southall Train Crash in September 1997

Geoff Gray's son, a 17-year-old private, also called Geoff, was found dead of gunshot wounds in September 2001 at Deepcut Barracks. He was one of four young recruits all of whom died at Deepcut in a similar manner between 1995 and 2002. The official version is that the four committed suicide, but the families do not accept this verdict and are campaigning for an inquiry into the deaths.

Maureen Kavanagh's son Peter was killed in the Southall train crash in September 1997, when seven people died and 147 were injured. Again, the official version, which blamed driver error, is contradicted by what the families of the victims believe. They argue that the crash would have been prevented by the installation of the safety system known as Automatic Train Protection, but that this had not been done because the company responsible, Railtrack, was not prepared to spend the necessary money.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Michael Finucane, son of Pat Finucane, said that he was hopeful that the meeting with other families pressing for inquiries will have helped to raise awareness of what the British government is attempting to do with the introduction of the Inquiries Bill. He said he believes the motive behind it was entirely political.

"The Bill will have a particular impact on our case and we feel that it is being rushed through in response to the Pat Finucane Case, because the government doesn't want to have to deal with what would come out of an inquiry," he said.

He added that the government was also reneging on an agreement it made with the family to hold an inquiry. "We have an intergovernmental agreement that was made at Weston Park," he said. "The British Government agreed to implement the recommendations of the Cory Report, which called for an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, and now they are breaking that agreement. According to that agreement, we should have an inquiry now and it should be established under existing law.

"We are going to be monitoring the passage of the Bill through the Houses of Parliament and will continue to press for a proper Tribunals of Inquiry Bill."

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