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Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
02-08-2005, 08:55 AM
Post: #1
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights

The potential for conflict between human rights legislation and anti-terrorism legislation is obvious. The clearest example so far is the Belmarsh decision, when the House of Lords (U.K’s highest court) ruled that detaining foreign terror suspects under immigration powers breaks human rights law.

In a nutshell, the judiciary used the Human Rights Act 1998 to stop the Government from holding terror suspects (without charges) under the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2001.

The Conservative MP Bill Cash asks, "Should this be so, particularly if human rights legislation fails to protect the public and national security?" and goes on to say, "The first human right is the right to life. Human rights legislation is in danger of becoming a vehicle for terrorism and death."

So, what do you think is more important? If it comes down to a straightfoward balancing act, with anti-terrorism law at one end of the bar and human rights law at the other, where should the fulcrum be placed?
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02-08-2005, 10:11 PM
Post: #2
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
I think if there has to be a compromise somewhere (and its inevitable that there will be), I would rather see a compromise to Human Rights legislation than to anti-terrorist legislation. And I never thought I'd say that........

As an impartial observer to other countries that have been forced to make a similar choice, I have always erred on the side of the Human Rights. But ain't it funny how your perspective can change when you yourself could be affected?

So - for example - as a short term measure I have no problem with Police on public transport making a point of only searching people of Asian appearance. This is a stance which is already being taken. It is contraversial and far from perfect, but to me it makes no sense for the police to search everyone . I am aware that are white Muslims in the world but not one of them, anywhere, has been a suicide bomber. However, there does need to be recognition of the fact that most Muslims are law abiding people who are just as terrified by the actions of these terrorists as everyone else and as such, there would need to be a reason beyond mere appearance to prompt police intervention. E.g. suspicious appearance / nervous persona / tip-off.....

Ideally, I would like to see baggage and people checking equipment on public transport of the kind that you have in Airports and Museums. But that is a huge financial investment which would take years to implement. I'd take the loss to my personal privacy without bleating on about my "Rights" if I thought it could potentially save lives.

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03-08-2005, 03:25 AM
Post: #3
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
I gotta say it seems to me that we have things more or less right in the UK already. I'm not sure we need any more laws, just better enforcement of the laws we already have.

The only thing I'd add is making phone taps admissible in court. I can't understand why we don't allow it here when it is normal elsewhere in the world.

Mick Smile
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04-08-2005, 08:29 PM
Post: #4
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
Mik - I suspect that you know much more about the proper legalities of human rights / anti-terrorist legislation than I do. In truth, I'm pretty ignorant about it all from a legal perspective and am inclined to talk from a purely social point of view.

And on that point, I have revised my previous opinion about how "happy" I am to have police focussing ramdom searches purely on people of an Asian appearance. The more I think about it, the more I believe it is a "knee-jerk" reaction that could cause more problems than it solves.

Firstly, it is pointless: A suicide bomber is not going allow him/herself to be stopped and searched without detonating. As a result, the policy stop and search Asian policy would simply alientate a lot of innocent people without being an effective deterrent.

Secondly: this policy may well be acting in a way the terrorists want. I don't really know what they want, but it may be that they want to cause racial division between Muslims and The West in a "divide and conquer" type way. If so, this sort of policy could play right into their hands.

Eitehr way, the more I think about it, the more the "stop and search Asians only" policy seems like a really crass idea.

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04-08-2005, 09:46 PM
Post: #5
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
I was at the station waiting for a bus this morning and there were kevlar-clad police everywhere.

Whilst there, I watched the comings and goings at platform 2 (not sure where the trains come from - Hertfordshire I think).

Three policemen stopped and searched a scruffy black guy with a ruck-sack on his back for about 5 minutes.

A smart looking black guy, with a much bigger ruck-sack, but a shirt and tie on, practically walked through the middle of the scene without a second glance from the constabulary.

It just occurred to me that if I wanted to cause death and destruction and undermine all the security efforts at a major London terminus, all I neded was a smart shirt and tie!

"You can put lipstick on a pig...but it's still a pig!!!"
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05-08-2005, 06:40 AM
Post: #6
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
Groucho Wrote:I was at the station waiting for a bus this morning and there were kevlar-clad police everywhere.

Whilst there, I watched the comings and goings at platform 2 (not sure where the trains come from - Hertfordshire I think).

Three policemen stopped and searched a scruffy black guy with a ruck-sack on his back for about 5 minutes.

A smart looking black guy, with a much bigger ruck-sack, but a shirt and tie on, practically walked through the middle of the scene without a second glance from the constabulary.

It just occurred to me that if I wanted to cause death and destruction and undermine all the security efforts at a major London terminus, all I neded was a smart shirt and tie!

Well, I guess that highlights yet another weakness in the stop and search approach - the bombers will just get smarter. The moment it becomes apparent that the police are targetting people of a particular appearance (young, black, male, scruffy), they will change that appearance in some way.

I seem to recall a similar thing a while back in Israel. Palestinian suicide bombers were assumed to be unemployed males in their early/late twenties and the military started to target men that matched that profile. So, the extremists changed their MO and starting deploying teenage bombers. Then they used girls.

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08-08-2005, 03:38 PM
Post: #7
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
karenh Wrote:Mik - I suspect that you know much more about the proper legalities of human rights / anti-terrorist legislation than I do. In truth, I'm pretty ignorant about it all from a legal perspective and am inclined to talk from a purely social point of view.

And on that point, I have revised my previous opinion about how "happy" I am to have police focussing ramdom searches purely on people of an Asian appearance. The more I think about it, the more I believe it is a "knee-jerk" reaction that could cause more problems than it solves.
I don't know much about the details of our law - I guess Blink'd be your man for that. But it seems to me that we already have laws for incitement to racial hatred, treason and terrorism (vs the IRA anyway) so I wonder whether we really need more laws, or whether we are getting too carried away with the current threat?

As for cracking down on extremists, well I was too young to remember the internment of IRA suspects and sympathizers in the early 70's. But my impression was that the policy failed, and that was why it was abandoned.

Groucho Wrote:It just occurred to me that if I wanted to cause death and destruction and undermine all the security efforts at a major London terminus, all I neded was a smart shirt and tie!
Did you see the BBC report on its news website on Asian people travelling on the Tube after the 7/7 attacks. There were people saying things like "I now carry a bottle of wine everywhere I go just so nobody thinks I'm a muslim fundamentalist"! Dunno whether to laugh or cry Smile

Mick Smile
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08-08-2005, 06:14 PM
Post: #8
Balancing anti-terrorism and human rights
mikado Wrote:Did you see the BBC report on its news website on Asian people travelling on the Tube after the 7/7 attacks. There were people saying things like "I now carry a bottle of wine everywhere I go just so nobody thinks I'm a muslim fundamentalist"! Dunno whether to laugh or cry Smile

Well, its very sad isn't it.

The other week, a colleague I have known for years felt the need to inform me that his newborn son's name was a Hindhu name. I didn't say anything, but inwardly I felt quite saddend by this extra information. I have worked with him for 3 years and never known what his religion is, but I did know that he hadn't felt the need to tell me the religious origin of his newborn daughters name 18 months previously. The undercurrents of his statement were subtle, but they were there and they made me sad. Without him actually saying so, I realise that this guy is frightend of being labelled "terrorist". Even by someone who has known and worked with him for 4 years :sad:

And there is something else I feel really bad about. We have an Indian family living about six houses down and they are the only Indian family in the street. They are quiet and pleasant and their two boys do the local paper rounds. They have had eggs chucked at their house and the two lads have had rascist comments thrown at them by the two asbo brats across the road (well, the brats aren't actually ASBO, but they are right lairey brats). The police are taking it seriously but it a dreadful worry that it is happening at all. This family are seriously not terrorists!!! FFS!

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