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Last Updated: Monday, 9 February 2004, 11:49 GMT
Are new anti-terrorism laws necessary?

Home Secretary David Blunkett is planning to introduce new anti-terrorism laws to make it easier to convict British terror suspects.

The Home Secretary wants to allow prosecutors to take action against suspected British extremists using evidence not strong enough to win a conviction under existing laws.

But five of the lawyers approved to work as special advocates in immigration cases oppose plans to roll out the scheme to include UK terror suspects.

And civil rights groups have condemned the proposals as "wholly unacceptable".

Are changes to anti-terrorism laws necessary? Do they violate civil liberties?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Bob from UK:
Is David Blunkett attempting to undermine the values of our justice system with juryless trials and now no burden of proof?

Running around like a headless chicken firing off new laws and overturning principles which have worked well for centuries is an indication of shoddy thinking. It is short term thinking which abandons the consequences to others to deal with.
If the evidence is not enough to convict then it harms the country to decide to convict without the evidence.
John, Fleet, Hants

The uproar over these laws is predictable and sadly typical of the British mentality. If a September 11th-type atrocity occurred here, these same people would be the ones hollering: "Why didn't the government do something to prevent it?"
David K, Essex, UK

Orwell was only 20 years out
Robert, London
What is classified as a pre-terrorist act? Thinking about it? So you can be convicted, without a jury trial, without ever knowing the evidence against you on the say so of an official paid by the government. Orwell was only 20 years out.
Robert, London

I understand the need to protect British people from terrorists, but this is just ludicrous. You cannot try someone in secret for a crime that could see them locked up for indefinite periods. The government have once again seen a problem and came up with the most wild idea and then made it policy. When they do think it out their policies rarely work, when they don't they are always shot down because they are so bad.
Chris Carr, Gosport, UK

Today we have seen a callous act of mass-murder in Moscow's Metro. Anything which prevents that happening in this country is justified. Those who disagree should voice their grievances to the terrorists who make it necessary rather than the politicians and police who try to ensure our safety.
Albert, UK

A terrorist is a terrorist, and they shouldn't be seen as any different just because they are from another country. Terrorists are a virus, spreading fear and destruction around the world, they should all be punished the same way, and never be aloud to threaten the land again.
Kristian Cobain, P'Boro

These new proposals are a violation of almost every human rights statue in existence. A civilised society is one where everyone rights are respected; these new pieces of legislation do more damage to the UK than all the terrorists in the world put together.
Thomas Clutton, Crewe

Yes, we certainly do need much much stronger laws but without it leading to a police state. Terrorists murder, maim and destroy innocent men, woman and children and the only way to destroy them is to fight fire with fire. It's the only language they understand. Civil rights groups now are run by anarchists who want so many individual freedoms there wouldn't be any laws to protect citizens if they had their way!
Robert, London

Must we wait until a major incident to prove the liberal elite wrong again?
John Karran, Liverpool
The attack on a Moscow subway shows how venerable we are. The civil liberties of these people should be reduced. It will be difficult to stop these people with the current laws. They must be amended to secure our country for future generations. Must we wait until a major incident to prove the liberal elite wrong again?
John Karran, Liverpool

Yes in this country we are regarded abroad as a very easy touch. We must support MI5 and the police by making sure there are laws that address terrorism and do not continually allow appeals etc.
William Winn, Brighton, UK

There is no change necessary at all. The proposal sounds like a way to get rid of unwanted people with no evidence they did anything wrong. It looks like a "light version" of Bush's law to have anybody executed with his signature without trial and transparency.
Gerry Poellman, London

The consequences of a terrorist being successful are so great that we have to be extraordinarily careful. Blunkett is right. My civil liberties are violated daily by yob culture - that's where the Civil Liberties should be focussing their attention
Brian Lewis, Aylesbury

The current justice system is not suited to our fast culture, it needs to be improved and this seems one of the ways. We need to eliminate all risk of terror and attack from factions! The Home Secretary has said "extremists with evidence not strong enough..." NOT "people that look or sound like an extremist".
Matthew Baker, Taunton, Somerset, UK

Given the deep mistrust now of the Blair Administration would anybody trust them will such new powers? I certainly would not.
Dave - Midlands, UK

Britain has been the best example of democracy at work for the last 300 years. These new laws, proposed by a government lacking much credibility at home, will have far reaching consequences worldwide. The fragile democracies of the developing world will be quick to adopt and abuse these measures citing Britain as an example.
Nicholas Simpson, Malta

What possible legitimate reason is there for secret trials without juries?
Ian Dystop, UK

Your chances of dying in a terrorist attack are extremely tiny
Charles Pack, UK
Your chances of dying in a terrorist attack are extremely tiny, you are far more likely to die of any of the following; cancer, heart disease, traffic accident, general gun crime (in the US at least), house hold accident. There is a threat which we must attempt to counter while maintaining our fundamental principles like justice, however the government with the collusion of the media (because it makes good TV) have blown the threat up beyond all proportion. In any case I'd rather die than abandon my principles out of cowardice.
Charles Pack, UK

It is a lost battle. There is a lot of injustice in the word which caused people to go to such extremes because there is nothing more left for them to do to be heard. Yet instead of dealing with the cause we just slap on measures to gag these people. It is like spring that is not allowed to return to its natural shape and held in position forcefully. Eventually the spring will snap. Be brave and deal with injustice, especially injustice caused by us.
James, UK

The fact that someone can be put away without being proven guilty is not lawful - I accept this. So therefore, let's wait, and review the evidence when someone is guilty. A few bombed out buildings, hundreds of people dead, people scared to walk outside. It'd make a lovely world wouldn't it?
Smithy, Ware, UK

I don't think making it easier to convict them is a good step. It will look good, the police will be praised for arresting so many terrorists. However, if it's easier to convict them, then there's a higher chance of wrongful convictions. I say try and improve the methods used for detecting and catching terrorists. If they have improved methods for gathering evidence and tracing terrorists, then the need to make it easier to convict them becomes unnecessary.
Bob

The proposals are outrageous. I see them more as part of some subtle new "opium for the masses" policy of this government, to keep us all scared stupid of terrorists, in order to pass draconian legislation and pursue wars whose real aim is to bring profit and gain to rich countries.
Nigel Cubbage, Redhill, uk

I'm a Kenyan, and Britain has always being the first to criticize the Kenyan government on human right abuses. Isn't it hypocritical of Britain to preach to us about human right abuses, while it is doing exactly the same? This is sheer double standards. The intelligence in Britain is already tainted by the lack of WMD.
John Kimani, Bracknell, UK

It will not make us feel any safer
Afsar, Leeds
Convicting suspects on the basis of intelligence information (uh!) will only serve to increase the threat terrorism - it will not make us feel any safer. What Mr Blunkett must realise is that you can't just simply introduce new laws to combat terrorism. Exactly what measure does he think would 'deter' a potential suicide bomber? Surely the only way forward is to understand and deal with the CAUSES of terrorism.
Afsar, Leeds

Any right-thinking person should be extremely worried about the prospect of these laws being introduced. It's virtually guaranteed that they will be abused at some point.
Shelley, Northern Ireland

To move the boundaries of the proof of guilt is wrong. Our system is innocent until PROVED guilty. That is what our justice system is base on. To take away a persons freedom based on flimsy evidence or even a person's individual view is the road to anarchy.
Alan Baker, Cowplain, UK

There is no doubt that terrorism is the biggest scourge of present times and everything possible needs to be done to end it completely. However, giving extraordinary powers to law enforcement agencies through anti terrorism laws has always proved to be counter productive as these powers are often misused. Not one instance can be cited where terrorism has been countered through draconian laws. Discontent is the source of all evil in this world and unless we are able to end this it wouldn't be possible to dissuade individuals from indulging in acts of terrorism.
Kanhaiya Sharma, New Delhi, India

Come on UK wake up! Please realise we are at war, a suicide bomber could walk into any public place (a football stadium, a crowded shop, etc.) and a lot of you would change your minds overnight. We MUST protect ourselves and our country. Stop being so namby-pamby and self-righteous - we must act now or pay the price. Tough situations call for tough decisions.
Alan, Derby, England

When a small child covers its' eyes it believes that you cannot see it. An intelligent and motivated terrorist, however unpleasant, will find you regardless of the law you place over your eyes.
R.C. Robjohn, UK

We cannot simply "hope" the law will never be abused, because usually if it can it will be
Adrian Bowley, Bracknell, UK
The idea that such laws will not be abused has already been proven wrong. In September 2003 Anti-Terrorism laws were used against protestors who were demonstrating outside Europe's biggest arms fair in London. These protestors were not endangering anyone, but were simply an embarrassment to the state. The idea that we shouldn't protest against an unjust law just because we don't think it will affect us is deeply selfish and irresponsible. We cannot simply "hope" the law will never be abused, because usually if it can it will be.
Adrian Bowley, Bracknell, UK

So, after three years in jail Abdelghani Mzoudi has just been tried and acquitted of any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. I just hope none of my former flatmates get into the newspapers otherwise I can be likewise be detained indefinitely as part of the war on terror.
Andrew Smith, Epsom UK

I see people protesting about the Hutton Report, WMDs, Capitalism etc. Where are the anti-Terrorism protests? Let's stop making the UK a haven for extremists.
Cheryl Harding, London, England

I am all for these new laws. After all they are not going to affect me are they? I am an innocent subject. The thought that these laws could be used against people like me who may wish to protest against this or a future government is nonsense. Politicians with power have and always will use their powers with restraint. I trust them.
John Cord, Basildon

Perhaps we need micro-chips in peoples brains so we can pre-emptively know whether they are going to commit terrorism. Also if everyone had a barcode tattooed on their foreheads we could keep much better surveillance over everyone. The scary thing is you could almost think I was being serious in the current political climate.
James Wild, London UK

The terrorists must love this. Their whole raison d'Ítre is to destabilise their enemies home countries. Draconian, dangerous laws like this are bound to help do just that. Those of you that support this, just remember, these laws will still be here after the terrorist threat has gone.
Ossi, Bristol, UK

Haven't we been led to believe that justice is indissoluble? Now are we supposed to believe that one set of justice will do here and not there? Isn't this just another example of our government following the corruption of justice that the U.S. has perpetrated at Guantanamo?
Allan, Glasgow, Scotland

Is this really a threat worth eroding our civil liberties for?
Iain Ross, Cambs, UK
What terrorist threat are these laws to combat? Since 9/11 a few thousand people have been killed by terrorists around the world. In the same period hundreds of thousands have died in traffic accidents, tens of millions have starved, millions have died of preventable or treatable diseases. Is this really a threat worth eroding our civil liberties for? Some perspective might be helpful.
Iain Ross, Cambs, UK

With this the UK/US will lose every right to criticize other governments in implementing draconian laws to suppress opposition etc. Can we truly say that these liberty restricting laws will really make the UK/US/World safe? I think not. All we are doing is playing to the tune of the terrorists, anarchists etc. It's a shame we have to go down this route for it really gives an aura of desperation.
ARIF Sayed, Dubai, UAE

The laws that England have on the books now are sufficient to deal with suspected and actual terrorists. Stop wasting tax money re-inventing the wheel. A person bent on dieing for his/her cause is next to impossible to stop, regardless of new laws made. If they succeed they are dead anyway so who are you going to charge with the crime. These laws are a waste of the paper they are printed on... Not to mention the tax money wasted implementing them.
E Salsbery, Utah, USA

The threat of terrorism is the world we live in now. New laws are needed to help protect ourselves against these evil people. It's just a fact these days.
Mike Daly, Hackettstown, NJ

The groups who oppose these laws are playing into the hands of the terrorists
Lionel B, USA
These laws are necessary to protect the civil rights of the silent majority who are not terrorists. The groups who oppose these laws are playing into the hands of the terrorists whose main goal is to destabilize the western democracies
Lionel B, USA

Civil liberties are only of value if they apply to EVERYONE, even those we are fighting against! Remember the case of the British Pensioner recently held in South Africa because of a case of mistaken identity? Under these proposals, errors like this would be far more likely. I assume that the supporters of this proposal would be quite happy to be detained indefinitely themselves under such circumstances? After all, it would be serving the "greater good"!
John, England

I don't feel excessive when I say I believe that Mr Blunkett should be forced to resign for suggesting this. Amy person who clearly holds the idea of freedom in utter contempt has no business being Home Secretary.
Rob, Worcester

They are definitely. After watching a rather intriguing programme called "Crisis Control", I feel that these laws should be implemented. After the tragic events in America in September 2001, I would advise the government to take every precaution necessary to counteract a major threat.
Gary Jackaman, Ipswich

David Blunkett seems to regard Civil Liberties as a nuisance
James, London
David Blunkett seems to regard Civil Liberties as a nuisance to be whittled away at every opportunity. Secret trials on the basis of "Intelligence" presumably of the calibre that led us into war. If we end up living in a police state then the terrorists have won a victory. The depressing thing is that they are enthusiastically helped in this by Politicians who are eager to help them in this goal.
James, London

Blunkett wants us to trust the intelligence services to compile a dossier of evidence against anyone they call a "suspect" (who can then be held indefinitely, without trial), allow that evidence to be withheld from a government appointed defence lawyer for the duration of the trial which is to be conducted in front of a professional judge (like Hutton), without a jury and in secret. Do we trust this? Are they really serious?
Edwin Thornber, UK/Romania

Before we get busy discarding all our supposed cherished principles, like justice, freedom and respect for human life out of hysterical fear, before we put in place the mechanisms of our own tyrannical regime, let's look at the facts. How many people have been killed in the UK by suicide bombers in the past five years, anyone - it's none I believe. How many Britons at home or abroad have been killed by terrorists - a lot less than died last year in car accidents in the UK alone. Yes there are people out there who would like to kill us, but so far the security services and the existing laws seem to be keeping us pretty safe.
John Anders, UK

The more we become consumed by reactive, US vs. THEM thinking, I think the more the terrorists will have 'won.' It's not just about killing and maiming people, they also want to take away freedoms and I suppose Blunkett's proposed changes would accomplish that.
Neil, UK

Pot, kettle and black spring to mind!
Theodorou, London
We invade another country to topple their regime, yet we are trying to introduce our own regime, what stops other countries from invading us to topple our own governments regime, pot, kettle and black spring to mind!
Theodorou, London

If these proposals ever became law, I would fear losing my liberty more than losing my life in a terrorist incident. Blunkett should be asked to resign for seeking to undermine basic civil liberties. In my opinion evidence that cannot be presented in open court and cannot be divulged to the defendant is worthless and should be deemed inadmissible.
Ed Harrison, Preston, UK

What incredible timing David Blunkett has. In the last couple of weeks we have seen:

1) The exposure of hundreds of miscarriages of justice where innocent people have lost their children 'on the balance of probabilities' caused by a judge sitting alone and believing an 'expert' witness
2) A totally perverse verdict flying in the face of vast swathes of evidence by a judge sitting alone
3) The effective rubbishing of American and British Intelligence by David Kay.

In the face of all this what does Mr Blunkett propose? ...That British citizens could be deprived of their liberty by a judge sitting alone on the basis of 'Intelligence' supplied by a security service 'expert' witness!
No thanks, David.
Mike, Winchester

We have lived with the threat of IRA violence in the UK for a long time before these laws will be passed, and they have proved that despite whatever laws you pass the violence will continue. We need to address the root causes that drive people to terrorism more than anything.
James, Liverpool, UK

How can anyone who endorses freedom accept secret trials? How will we know trials even took place? Furthermore, how long will it take before people are simply rounded up in the middle of the night and never heard from again?
Alex, UK expat

Why bother with any burden of proof at all?
Philip Davies, Wareham, UK
Why bother with any burden of proof at all? If the government suspects someone of being a terrorist - just lock them up. After all there's no smoke without fire is there? I am sure we can trust the authorities to know what they are doing. No, Mr Blunkett, save yourself the cost of a secret trial and lock away all the suspects you like. You can depend on our support. Bring on the reforms! Heil Blunkett!
Philip Davies, Wareham, UK

Blunkett's been watching too much 'Minority Report'.
Geoff Walsh, Guildford UK

Yes, these laws are totally necessary. Otherwise, we can't lock up innocent people to make it look like we have the false sense of panic we have created under control. And besides if we have a fair system, Panorama will have no material for documentaries into unsafe convictions in 15 years time otherwise!
Richard, Glasgow

Why is it whenever a UK Government tries to make society a safer place that small minority whinges so loudly ? The civil liberties of the vast majority - from aging parents to growing children who have the right to be free from violence are to be trampled just in case the 'civil liberties' of some political or religious zealot might be infringed ? I wish those with the energy to campaign for a better society would turn their attention to protecting the old from muggings and break-ins, or strengthening the laws against child-molesters, instead of defending the rights of fanatics
CJ, Arkhangelsk, Russia

Have you people ever heard of fighting to protect your freedom?
William T, UK
Yes. Let's all complain. Let's all get rid of the government and then when the country is in chaos the Stop the War groups can let in the terrorists to murder our families and the Civil Rights Groups can defend the terrorists instead of the innocent people lying in their graves. Go for it, you all seem to want it so why don't we all give al-Qaeda a hand and shoot ourselves in the head right now? Have you people ever heard of fighting to protect your freedom?

No. And what's more your grandparents and great-grandparents will be turning in their graves. If it wasn't for people going to war we'd all be 'Sieg Heiling', doing the goose step and not worrying about Muslim terrorists because Hitler would have wiped every other race off the face of the planet.
William T, UK

My father would be turning in his grave, William T, at the thought of these new laws, not at the thought of me opposing them. He fought from 1939 to 1945 in the skies above Britain and in Burma to prevent this sort of regime being introduced into Britain. To imply that those who fought would support this authoritarian rubbish is ridiculous. They fought for our freedom, not for our enslavement to a totalitarian government.
James King, Coventry, England

Despite protestations to the contrary, the new policies of the Home office are blatantly targeted at Muslims be they foreign or UK citizens. The same themes of mistrust and threat from 'alien culture' is echoed in the recent asylum debate. As long as Mr Blunkett pursues this radical right wing agenda not only will Britain's hard won domestic freedoms be risk but our very culture of hospitality and openness that has allowed us to become one of the most diverse, mixed yet stable countries on this planet.
Rocco Blume, London, UK

David Blunkett claims that, "You can't deter when the deterrent no longer exists". What utter nonsense. Terrorists can't be deterred - they are more than happy to be locked up for life or even die for their cause. The new laws won't stop terrorism, but they will impact on innocent people... and after the WMD fiasco, I hardly trust the intelligence services!
Alex, UK

As long as it catches the culprits and is revoked! Otherwise it's an erosion of already diminished democracy in this country.
Alex Keel, London, UK

Al-Qaeda have won. This is exactly what they want to happen
Geoff Walsh, Guildford, UK
Al-Qaeda have won. This is exactly what they want to happen. The destruction of free societies into Taleban-esque regimes based on terror, hatred and oppression.
Ian, UK

We've had terrorism since before 1600. Why do we suddenly need our freedom taken away? So they finally think they've won?
Geoff Walsh, Guildford, UK

If we could trust the government and justice system to make an appropriate and accurate judgement of each individual situation then new anti-terrorism laws would not be such a horrifying thought. As it stands, for once the civil rights groups may be arguing a reasonable case.
Rich, Durham, UK

Can Blunkett not see the irony in this? We have helped toppled a dictatorial regime in Iraq, yet he wished to erode our civil liberties further. This is all too common with government - take the route of the easy quick fix rather than solve a problem from the root. And no I do not have anything to hide, but anyone who places 100% confidence in our justice system as it is severely blinkered.
Sandy, UK

Wrong and dangerous. Terrorists commit crime, just as any murderer does. The fact that they murder for ideology rather than money or revenge or whatever makes no difference. We detest terrorists because they are criminals, not because of what they believe in. As for risks, tell that to the veterans of the Second World War. Then millions of people gave their lives to defend us from exactly these sorts of arbitrary state powers and I am willing to risk whatever terrorists can throw at me now to keep my liberty.
Jon, UK

It seems the government is following in Americas footsteps. Taking away our civil liberties is always going to be a backwards step in a democracy. Do we really need new laws anyway? Are we really in that much danger? Can I at least see some proof of that first?
Samuel, Oxon, UK

We've resisted giving any government in this country this kind of absolute power since the Middle Ages
Ben Drake, York, UK
Look carefully at what Blunkett is proposing: anyone can be sent to prison indefinitely on the basis of suspicion alone, no trial, no evidence, no right of appeal. This could be used against any of us at any time. We've resisted giving any government in this country this kind of absolute power since the Middle Ages, for good reason. Not to protect the guilty, but the innocent.
Ben Drake, York, UK

What a brave new world we are building, where anyone can be arrested at anytime, and convicted in a secret trial on evidence they are never allowed to see, evidence which does not even have to prove them guilty beyond reasonable doubt (even secretly). What is wrong with some people in the UK so many generations have lived under much worse threats than this to win us what liberties and civil rights we have, and yet at the slightest sign of danger some people are ready to throw all that away.
Jane Tristan, UK

I can't believe I'm hearing this, half of the people writing in haven't even grasped the issue that is going on here. I agree terrorists shouldn't be given any quarter, lock 'em up and throw away the key, but only once it has been proven they are terrorists. These new laws say its is ok to convict someone on circumstantial evidence ... this is what we are arguing against not that the terrorists should be given human rights.
Daniel, London

I would hate to find myself in the position of being arrested on the basis of evidence that I wasn't allowed to see, in order to put up a proper defence. If sufficient evidence can be gathered indicating that someone is planning a terrorist act then why can't an operation be put into place to catch the terrorists in the act but prior to anyone being harmed.
Bill Powell, Yeovil, Somerset

If terrorists choose to kill people and take action in order to carry out their attack then yes, lock them up
Em, UK
If you consciously decide to carry out a crime, of any sort, and make actions/plans in order to carry out a crime, then you are guilty already of committing it as you chose to do something wrong, and manoeuvred circumstances in order to carry out your actions. If terrorists choose to kill people and take action in order to carry out their attack then yes, lock them up - they are not concerned with their victims human rights, so why should their 'human rights' suddenly take precedence over cold blooded murder, the victims and their families?
Em, UK

To Em, UK... this reasoning of yours sounds a lot like thought police - if you think of and work out how to do a crime you are guilty of the crime??? Oh dear I guess that makes me guilty of Murder (my mother in law), Arson (my work), GBH (the person who pushed in front of the queue at the bar), any and all motoring offences - oh well at least 99.9999% of the public will be in prison with me.
Gavin, UK/Yorkshire

Gavin, if some guy plans to say, rape a young girl, engineers the situation to carry out his attack and only gets stopped because of unexpected changes in the circumstances, then you would be horrified with this man, and would probably join the ranks of outraged people demanding he is locked up. Is planning murder of innocent people any less outrageous?? Surely people who plan to carry out murder are criminals and should be stopped before any harm is done? do these innocent victims deserve to die?
Em, UK

Innocent people are sent to jail with our current level of burden of proof; we find out when they are proved innocent. Lowering the burden of proof is bound to increase the number of innocent people sent down. What is more scary is that with secret trials without jurors protecting "secret" evidence it is also less likely their innocence will come out.
David R, Plymouth UK

How many people are currently wrongly convicted right now? We hear cases all the time where the judgement passed was wrong - how many more people will be innocently jailed with a lowering of standards?
Victor, Birmingham, UK

Just because we have a democratically and constitutionally elected government does not mean that it is infallible, or that it should have unfettered powers over our lives, or that it will not abuse its power. Ask yourself if you would be so happy about this law if you yourself were under suspicion.
Katherine, London, UK

Yes they are needed like never before
John Cooper, Slough
Yes they are needed like never before. The threat from terrorism is continuous. In fact they should be tougher with suspects born in the UK subject to selective executive detention orders so that they can be taken out of circulation and imprisoned for as long as need be to protect society at large.
John Cooper, Slough

Many people here are opining that terrorists don't deserve 'civil liberties'. Please note that the new laws do not target convicted terrorists. They make it easier to convict SUSPECTED terrorists. Sadly, many people will not understand the difference in these terms unless something happens to make the government view them as suspected terrorists. Then, they might begin to see the usefulness of the liberties they were so happy to relinquish.
Thomas Evans, UK

What is Blunkett's obsession with passing laws? New laws don't change the situation, proper enforcement of the wide ranging powers already in existence do. All these new laws do is lower the standard of proof so the police don't have to do a thorough job.
Damian Leach, UK

Unfortunately, Civil Liberties groups only seem to protect those to are neither civil nor respect other people's liberties. If one person is saved by these new laws, it's a good thing! Go for it Mr Blunkett!
Sue Hudson, London, UK

Surely any government that is committed to preventing terrorist attacks would focus on improving intelligence strategies rather than imposing legislation that might potentially impinge on civil liberties and human rights.
James Patterson, Brighton

No, we don't need new anti-terrorism laws. And the ones we already have should be repealed. Terrorist action is adequately covered by "ordinary" criminal law.
Brian Beesley, UK

I fully understand Mr Blunkett's fears and reasons for these planned changes in the law
Paul Mc, Ealing London
I think it is now time for every right minded citizen to become aware of their duty, I fully understand Mr Blunkett's fears and reasons for these planned changes in the law. People should remember that the laws are upheld by the constitutionally elected government of this land therefore people must have faith in said government as they have been elected, (stop moaning and start voting )
Paul Mc, Ealing London

The proposed anti-terrorism laws put forward by David Blunkett amount to a fundamental breach of the right to a fair trial as enshrined in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Previous anti-terror legislation from 2001 led to the UK derogating from Article 5. What does this say about the lack of respect for human rights shown by David Blunkett? These proposals show he is unfit to hold political office.
Gareth, Nottingham

Shades of 1984. This is the problem - we all have too many secrets. When a governments actions come into question, as ours has, you cannot trust them with secrets.
Jonathan, Glasgow UK

The law requires a person is innocent until proven guilty. Is this supposedly unassailable right to be discarded? The (so-called) Justice system is not perfect now, mistakes are already made and people spend time in prison for things they didn't do. Do you really want it on your conscience that you stood by and helped make things worse?
Tony H, Wilts

Of course they are necessary. Why are people always so concerned with the civil liberties of criminals/terrorists - what about my civil liberty to live in my country and go about my daily business and not get blown up? These terrorists operate outside any manner of law-legal or moral and we must do whatever is necessary to stop them however extreme it may appear.
Carolyne Pike, Manchester, UK

I thought we were meant to be getting rid of injustice in this world
Paul Johnston, N. Ireland
He is going too far! What next? I suppose the "criminals" will also be guilty until proven innocent? Better still, just throw them into jail, who needs a trial! I thought we were meant to be getting rid of injustice in this world. This sounds like something Hitler or some other dictator would do, not a minister of one of the most democratic nations on earth.
Paul Johnston, N. Ireland

If this law goes through it will show one thing only, that the terrorists are winning. Those that will loose out will be the British public as we are the people that he law will be misused against.
Simon Rerrie, Birmingham, UK

Such decisions seem to be actions of fear, rather than of logic. All it is achieving is making it easier to convict innocent people.
James Glover, Cambridge

Yes - I think they are necessary. We just cannot afford to take risks. I would think most well meaning people would agree with this stance - no-one wants to lose loved ones. The measures do NOT violate civil liberties and in this instance are totally acceptable.
Catherine Butland,

In Soviet Russia, prudent people kept a bag packed with essentials in case the police came knocking and hauled you away. Will this become standard practice in David Blunkett's Britain?
Marc Brett

Will the same "intelligence" services be used which led us all to believe that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. What better way to reward the mistakes of the secret services than to imprison people using the same intelligence services.
Summaya Dawood, Manchester, UK

Blunkett and Blair were elected because the people were sick of the authoritarian habits of the Conservative Party. Now, their stated views are even further to the right than Thatcher's.
Emma Summers, London, England

The Home Secretary's proposals and his whole approach and attitude to this 'crisis' poses a risk to our existing laws. There are no shortcuts or 'final' solution to these threats least of all by just making it easier to convict. Innocent citizens will fall victims to over-reaction.
Keith Nethercot, UK

Should efforts not be made to deal with the cause of terrorism rather than its symptoms?
Will Howard, Exeter, England
The worrying issue here is painfully simple: Is it morally acceptable for any government to have such control on its subjects' civil rights? Should efforts not be made to deal with the cause of terrorism rather than its symptoms?
Will Howard, Exeter, England

It appears to me to be a conflict between breaking an age old principle of English criminal law, and protecting the public from terrorist attack. As a lawyer I am reluctant to say this, but it appears time to raise the game and strike back harder at the terrorist. If we rigidly stick to legal principles when terrorism is evolving and growing, we do ourselves no favours at all.
J. English, Oxford, UK

The presumption of innocence is the golden thread which runs through our criminal justice system. It is an essential bulwark against state abuse and should be displaced only by evidence tested to the highest standard of proof. It is the most important feature which distinguishes a democracy from a tyranny. When our way of life is perceived to be under threat, we should jealously guard our most precious principles, not destroy them and thereby aid and abet the objectives of the terrorist.
Frank, Liverpool

Post-911, we were in such a state of shock and grief that we were suddenly willing to put up with anything imposed "for our safety" as civil liberties began to erode at an astonishing rate. I hope that Great Britain, being much older and wiser will nip this same trend in the bud and not simply put up with it.
V. E. Wright, Boston, USA

Quite frankly this proposal scares me
R. Mistry, UK
I was of the "if you have done nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear" brigade but quite frankly this proposal scares me. Allowing convictions that would not normally be possible and trials in secret are trademarks of regimes like the old Soviet Union when political opponents were sent to the gulags after secret trials.
R. Mistry, UK

Civil rights groups have lost their credibility on this issue because they believe the rights of an individual surpasses that of the population as a whole which is clearly nonsensical. I support David Blunkett on this one!
Richard Bundred, Neston, UK

These proposals are a disgrace and an affront to a civilised democracy. You can't decide to make it easier to convict people for some crimes than for others. And to hold these trials behind closed doors is the sort of behaviour we expect from the undemocratic and tyrannical regimes our government has supposedly been opposed to.
Jim, Shrewsbury

This is nothing less than the beginning of the end of democracy. How long before we see 'terrorist' being applied to protest groups or anybody radically opposed to the government.
Paul, UK

Non-terrorists have civil rights too. Having experienced the ineffective British legal process I think it is essential we shore up the system with these special measures. Perhaps in order to placate the bleeding heart criminal protectors, who have caused our country to descend into the lawless chaos it is today, an annual review of the proposed system would be possible.
Andrew B, Dorchester, England

We have already seen Anti Terror Laws being used for Non-Terror situations. Against protestors. This means we have evidence that new laws will be abused either by this government or worse still by future governments in years to come. You may imagine you have nothing to fear but it is only a matter of time.
Jan, UK

These propositions chill me to the core. How many other supposedly democratic nations are going to pass laws allowing them to run totalitarian regimes? I suppose 1984 was just 20 years too early.
Amber Senti, Los Angeles, USA

This is the sort of law that Saddam Hussein introduced to keep his population under his thumb
Rhiannon Miller, Glasgow, UK
The standard of proof required should be the same as for any other crime. Either you have been planning to blow up Parliament (or whatever) or you haven't. Introducing laws that make it less likely that the right people get put away for it is not going to help anyone, least of all the people who are trying to stop terrorist attacks. There's no need to undermine the entire judicial system in the way that Blunkett proposes. This is the sort of law that Saddam Hussein introduced to keep his population under his thumb, as it gives the people in power the ability to put people away for whatever excuse they like. That is true terrorism.
Rhiannon Miller, Glasgow, UK

There have been enough miscarriages of justice in the past even with the "beyond reasonable doubt" principle to demonstrate clearly that reducing the burden of proof is unacceptable in a democratic society.
Iain, Edinburgh, UK

I believe we require far stronger anti-terrorist laws to make it easier to convict British terrorists. Also further laws to enable us to deport immediately both foreign and joint UK/foreign passport holders who we believe are anti-British.
Alan Baldwin, Bournemouth, England

Yet again, the "I have nothing to fear brigade" are assuming that the new system will be infallible. When will they realise that civil rights campaigners are not only trying to ensure that would-be terrorists have a fair trial, but that they are also endeavouring to preserve the rights of the innocent.
Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK

I would be happier knowing I was a citizen of a country which had a world respected legal system carefully developed over time than one which allowed knee-jerk reactions to political fashion. Surely the current system does an excellent job at convicting criminals while maintaining civil rights and there is no need to alter that.
Alex,

How many other heinous crimes will join terrorism in this special new category?
Mike, Reading
How many other heinous crimes will join terrorism in this special new category, with the accused being denied such basic elements of justice as the right to an open and fair trial? This is such a dangerous idea that I'm amazed anyone in a free society could even broach it. Terrorism is reprehensible (as are many other crimes) but accusation must not be tantamount to proof. Proof must be open to public scrutiny.
Mike, Reading

It is doubly disturbing that not only is the standard of proof to be relaxed but also the trials are to be in secret. All other occasions where standards of proof have been relaxed and the system is not open to scrutiny have led directly to gross injustice. This attempt to get these laws passed has more to do with injustice by the state than prevention of terror.
Shaheen Fife, Worthing, W Sussex

I believe in the right of the individual, but given the consequences of terrorist actions over the last few years I think that the balance needs to be adjusted to ensure the general publics safety. A common sense approach should be held on this, a way should be found that ensures that the terrorist trials are just, but also in a way that protects the states intelligence/operatives secrecy. I am sure that a panel of independent judges could be set up to trail such cases in the future.
Robert Crisp, London

What is the point of defending civil Liberty when your defence of civil liberty takes that basic right away from all? Why should anybody trust the secret service as a source of reliable information?
John, London, UK

We don't need more new laws
Sally, Sussex, England
We don't need more new laws. We need an intelligence network adequately equipped to eek out terrorists and a police force suitably kitted up to take action against them. If the British government truly values its people, instead of spending millions on a war no one wants, it will put the money towards protecting its own.
Sally, Sussex, England

It is a slippery slope from arresting those who are a significant threat to those who just disagree with a government's position. If we enshrine these draconian laws into our legal system we end up threatening its very basis. What next will our obviously anti-democratic government try and institute? I think we should all be worried.
Rebecca, UK

Mr Blunkett: how exactly will these proposed laws, which will harden resentment against the UK and US because of their disproportionate impact on Muslims, lead to a safer UK or to respect for democracy and human rights abroad?
Peter Barber, Glasgow, Scotland

I have no fear of these new laws. I will never be accused of a terrorist act, because I act as a responsible citizen in a free country. My civil liberties will not be infringed. I just wonder what activities that those that feel threatened by these laws are actually getting up to. David Blunkett has the guts to do something and deserves whole hearted support.
Peter, UK, Devon

These laws can only spell disaster
Ed, Sheffield UK
Given the already worrying statistics of how many people are arrested on terrorist charges and then released with out charge, or how many convictions fall through in court, these laws can only spell disaster, driving people, whose relatives and loved ones are arrested and incarcerated on jumped up charges and tried in secret, into the arms of the extremists. This fundamentally undermines all that the current court system is supposed to stand for, and makes us no better than the corrupt regimes across the world that our leaders seem so keen on eliminating.
Ed, Sheffield, UK

Civil liberties are what separate us from the very people we are trying to defeat. We are becoming more like them daily. People accept it. It's frightening.
Kim Righetti, Upland California

I'm curious as to what dreadful outrage has occurred since the last time Blunkett introduced new "terror laws"? As far as I am aware, nothing has changed... As for the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" brigade, they should remember that power without oversight inevitably leads to abuse.
Duncan King

You can come up with as many anti-terrorism laws you want - terrorists don't care for their own lives let alone a some new law. Complete waist of time and money. Of course they violate civil liberties. Justice?
Steve, UK

Even if a government tries to employ these laws for the greater good, they are nonetheless foolhardy for attempting to add to the statute laws which can be so easily abused. The potential for civil rights abuses far outweighs any possible benefits these laws could bring. The lack of transparency will inevitably cause members of the public to doubt even the safest of terror convictions.
Stephanie, Edinburgh, UK

If you have nothing to hide the laws should not affect you, whether of British citizenship or not! Too much talk and not enough action.
Chris, Worthing/UK

Seeing as they find it so difficult to keep us safe from burglars, vandals, car thieves and muggers it's hardly likely that these same people can keep us safe from terrorists. This basic legal principle can not be allowed to be over-ridden.
Phillip Holley, UK

I find it absolutely unbelievably that people are attacking the Civil Liberties brigade for wanting to "protect terrorists". What these people are trying to do is protect innocent people from being accused of terrorism, tried in secret and incarcerated without any hope of release. Not fit to be Home Secretary? Blunkett is not fit to hold any position of authority if he seriously entertains these measures - it is inconceivable that this could be proposed in a modern democracy.
Tim Carding-Allen, Newbury, Berkshire

It is time for us to have some strong rules and punish those who do not follow
Natalie, Manchester, UK
We are giving plenty opportunities for terrorists in this country. Every time David Blunkett wants to get tougher, he is not supported. It is time for us to have some strong rules and punish those who do not follow. I am not feeling safe (where are my human right?) in my own country, but I am sure terrorists are. It is time that we were concerned about ourselves
Natalie, Manchester, UK

Should the government not be looking to improve the quality of the intelligence rather than reduce the quality of British law to cover.
Matt, UK

Isn't this what we are campaigning against the Americans doing in Guantanamo Bay? It is a complete breach of any ones human rights to be held without charge or trial. I hope it will another nail in the coffin for Blair's government!
Cat, Cambridge UK

The short answer is no - if we do this we are instituting a regime that is not transparent and will lead to miscarriages of justice. No jury, secret evidence? If you couple that with the new emergency powers the government can do what it likes, when it likes - so how is that different to any other totalitarian state?
Tony, Cardiff

Not fit to be Home Secretary! Should think this proves rather the opposite... have not been a huge fan of this Labour government but Blunkett is doing the right thing without doubt. The new laws are completely necessary and do not violate the civil liberties of anyone - except possibly terrorists, fundamentalists and others who don't care in the least for such things as democracy, freedom of speech and so on.
Victoria Webb, London, England

What is Britain becoming when on the balance of probabilities is a accepted reason as proof. How many innocent people will be inflicted by this law? I shudder to think how this law will be used. Just like it was on the balance of probabilities we invaded Iraq because of WMD, and see where that got Britain. A main target for any extremist. Well done Labour!
Ron, Middlesbrough

What is the point of changing the laws, nothing will change as it never does. Seems the Government are spending far too much time focusing on this, although a valid issue it still seems to be taking over. I feel that there are more important issues to be dealt with.
Wilf, Cheshire UK

I cannot believe that anyone in their right mind would want the UK to adopt such stringent and arbitrary legislation. I tore up my Labour party membership card last year when Iraq was invaded. I am extremely happy I did. I do not believe the Conservative party would ever dare to come up with such legislation.
Pascal Jacquemain, Welwyn Garden City, UK

When we can trust our intelligence services to make the right call more often than not, then the Government might have a case for detaining people. The important word, of course, is "when".
Thomas Murphy, England

David Blunkett's new anti-terrorism laws undermine the very foundations of British justice
Colin Wright, UK
David Blunkett's new anti-terrorism laws undermine the very foundations of British justice, effectively putting in place the mechanisms of a totalitarian state. Secret trials in which the accused doesn't get to see the evidence and the burden of proof does not apply? Sounds more like the legal system of the old Soviet Union than anything that belongs in a democracy that values justice.
Colin Wright, UK

Stringent rules against terrorism - YES but questionable powers to lock away anyone the Home Secretary or his supporters don't like the face of - NO. If the same intelligence is behind the mistrust that will lock people up as was behind the need to go to war against Iraq then definitely NO THANK YOU.
Keith, Isle of Man, Douglas, Isle of Man

Generally there is no smoke without fire - police do not arrest people unless there is a good reason. The Civil Liberties people only seem to care for the wrongdoers of this country - what about our rights? The rights of normal innocent people leading their everyday lives.
Nick S, Crawley UK

I just wish these civil rights groups would go and protest to Al Qaeda instead of trying to protect terrorists.
Mike, London, England

They are not necessary, no they do not. It is because the authorities are weak when imposing them. We do not need new laws, we need a strong home secretary, as the laws for national security are enough to deal with terrorists.
J Evans, UK





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