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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 17:06 GMT
Anti-terror measures: Your reaction
Charles Clarke
A system of "control orders" is to replace the holding of foreign terror suspects without trial, Home Secretary Charles Clarke has announced.

The bill will allow executive control orders including house arrest with electronic tagging and specific curfews.

The proposals are in response to a ruling by the Law Lords that the indefinite detention of 12 foreign suspects at Belmarsh prison was unlawful.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the measures were needed to fight global terror.

What do you think of the home secretary's proposals? Do they go far enough or could they pose a potential threat to human rights? Send us your views.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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

Can someone please explain to me why these measures are needed now after all the years of IRA terrorism? If there is enough evidence to charge and bring these people to trial then it should be done. If not, then they should walk free. That's what the presumption of innocence means. Scaremongering on the back of "global terror" is no justification for destroying the basis premise behind the rule of law. Don't forget that the intelligence service that is pointing the finger is the same one that assured us that Iraq had WMD.
Andrew Cox, Berlin, Germany

Most responses on here are bordering on the paranoid. These measures will help make us safer from those that will do us harm. I suppose those who want more liberty for suspected terrorists will be the first to complain 'the police knew they were a threat but did nothing' when they blow up true innocents.
Kevin, West Midlands

The most worrying thing about this whole debate is the number of people who have swallowed the authority's hype about "international terrorism" without questioning it at all. I am in my mid-30s and have lived with the threat of terrorism on the mainland UK for my whole life. The way I see it we now have much less threat from terrorists than 20 or even only 10 years ago, so why the smashing away at the freedoms we have now? Why not before?
Keith Laws, Basingstoke, Hampshire

Just what are we supposed to do with these people then? Let them loose to create mayhem and carnage?
Andrew, Bedford UK

We went through two world wars where hundred of thousands of civilians lost their lives and there was deemed no need for those totalitarian measures. Now that we live in the period of the most peace and prosperity we have ever seen, suddenly there is a need to introduce detention without trial?
Ralph, Manchester

Commemorating the holocaust should remind us all that the removal of basic civil liberties, such as the right to a fair trial, is a first step towards a totalitarian state and the demise of true democracy for everyone in this country.
Andy & Susan, Aberdeen

I approve of the plans. These people are evidently very dangerous and should be kept under lock and key until proved otherwise.
Jon Harrison, York, England

Human rights is a fair enough argument, but the rest of the population has a right to live in a safe, terrorist-free country, and we have a right to demand that the government who we elected does all they can to ensure that, not just wait until it's too late. So why do we not deport those who are not full British citizens? Why keep them in this country and cost us tax payers thousands of pounds! That is what any other country would do, whether or not they are innocent or guilty.
Hannah, Woking

I lived in South Africa during the apartheid era and they had the same laws with the same excuses.
Stuart, London

The proposals are undemocratic, dangerous and counter to the values of British society
Mark, Reading, UK

Once on the statute books, these measures could enable a government to stifle all opposition. The proposals are undemocratic, dangerous and counter to the values of British society. If there is clear evidence of wrong doing, put people on trial.
Mark, Reading, UK

Any measure like this, which erodes civil liberties, is a victory for terrorists?
Nancy, Nottingham

Don't forget that most of these measures are only put in place to keep the public afraid. If people are afraid, you can make them do anything!!
Anon, Luton

Yet again this government is using the "climate of fear" as an excuse to remove civil rights.
Dave, Netherlands

Some people are commenting that these are "reasonable" proposals. But how long will it be before this Government starts using house arrest for hunt supporters, animal rights supporters, CND supporters or anyone else who might make the Government's life difficult? This is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge and should be fought at every opportunity.
Brian Brown, Bicester, England

The right to a fair trial has been a right of every person in this country for over 300 years
Mark, Aberdeen
I find this really disturbing. The right to a fair trial has been a right of every person in this country for over 300 years. This government is intent on changing the basic fabric of our beliefs and ideals as a society. It seems in our effort to beat the devil we have become what we fear. The threat we face now is only greater then that in the past due to the actions of the UK and US governments.
Mark, Aberdeen

Any kind of punishment without trial is a travesty of justice. We should take the next opportunity to vote out any politician that supports it.
Richard Read, London, UK

It is a frighteningly dangerous step to allow any politician to make the decision of who to detain. Everyone who is detained should have the right to know why and have their case put before the judiciary within a reasonable time frame.
Ken Goodman, Brinkworth, UK

The tyranny of fear perpetuated by this government must end
Alex Mangan, Swindon, UK
The tyranny of fear perpetuated by this government must end. If we stay true to what we are and make the effort to embrace the liberty we are supposed to hold dear, there will be nothing, in the end, to fear.
Alex Mangan, Swindon, UK

I am worried that we appear to be undergoing a role reversal with Russia. While Russia is enjoying its newfound wealth and freedom, we seem to be suffering from a poor economy, straightjacket taxes and an ever tightening Communist rule. Am I the only one who feels this way?
Joy Cavanagh, Cambridge, UK

House arrest without trial? So we have raised our standard of human rights to that of Myanmar, have we? I despair of the police state that this once-free country is rapidly becoming.
Mike, Witney, England

Sadly these days it appears to be a case of not your nationality but of what religious faith you belong to.
Anon, Northern Britain

Will they have a right to challenge any order in the courts? This is all hysterical, but very real and mentally damaging to the 'suspects'. Why are we allowing this to go on?
Tony Bowyer, London UK

An unscrupulous government could use the laws today to crush dissent
Captain Kephart, Worcester, UK
These are exactly the kind of laws that the Nazis put in place and then used against the Jews. The same excuses - that 'good people' shouldn't be afraid of the laws were used. Let's not allow ourselves to be duped again. An unscrupulous government could use the laws today to crush dissent.
Captain Kephart, Worcester, UK

Put these people on trial, tag them till proven innocent. This is yet more appeasement from UK government towards a potential voting group.
Tez, Warwick, UK

What the British and American Constitution have in common is the right to a fair trail. This right should not extend to terrorists. They are beyond the protection of our laws!
Neil, Sacramento, California USA/ UK

The Home Secretary says that the "control orders will apply to foreign terror suspects" but it seems all the current detainees entered UK under the immigration/asylum system and have been in the country for several years. If anyone promotes or incites terrorism or it is proven that they are actively involved in terrorism, then they should lose any right to "hospitality" within this country and should be immediately deported.
David Liptrot, Worksop England

A terrorist is not a terrorist until he has been convicted in a fair trial. Until then they should be afforded the rights they deserve.
Scott, Leeds, UK

This is a step backwards, not forwards
Simon, London, UK
Deeply disturbing and very disappointing - instead of addressing the core issue of internment without trial the government has simply sidestepped the Law Lords ruling of discrimination by widening it to include British citizens. This is a step backwards, not forwards.
Simon, London, UK

The detained men are a blatant danger to the UK. They are treating the UK as a soft touch safe haven if they are wanted in other countries for terrorism, and have chosen to come and hide here under our ill thought out laws that promote the UK as a place where anybody whatever their circumstances can come and stay at no cost whatsoever.
PDC, London UK

You can't impose sanctions upon people based on hearsay and rumour. You either have evidence, in which case they are tried, or you don't in which case they go free. Or are we no better than Saddam?
Mark, Norwich UK

A reasonable attempt to find a workable solution
Chris Day, Oxford, UK
A lot of people are making the comment: 'If there's evidence against someone, put them on trial, if there isn't, then let them go free.' Unfortunately, in a post 9/11 world, it isn't that simple. For suspects who are believed to be linked to powerful terrorist organisations, it could be extremely detrimental to our national security to put them on trial in the usual way, where the full details of their case would be available for all to see. The government is therefore faced with an extremely difficult situation, and I think the measures they have announced are a reasonable attempt to find a workable solution.
Chris Day, Oxford, UK

Surly simply deporting them is the easiest option?
David, London

This isn't a simple issue - we can't just deport these "suspects" as there isn't anywhere we can legally send them, and we can't have a full trial, as this could seriously compromise our intelligence operations. I don't know what the right answer is, but I can tell you that neither the "try them or free them" view nor the "deport anyone we don't like" argument will help the debate to go anywhere.
Geoff Briggs, London, UK

I remember a time when we were proud to describe ourselves as part of the free world. Sadly, a bunch of fanatics have defeated us. What is the free world now?
Ben, Weymouth, UK

This measure destroys justice itself
Matthew D'Arcy, Nottingham
This is a severe and frightening erosion of all of our rights as citizens. It means that any of us could be imprisoned (albeit in our own homes) on the word of unidentifiable security agents in a process which is not open to proper scrutiny. How great in reality is the threat? Is it as grave as during the troubles in Northern Ireland in which many British people were killed on the mainland? We did not use such measures then, so why now? British justice is something we should be proud of. This measure destroys justice itself.
Matthew D'Arcy, Nottingham

The new proposals are still potentially dangerous. I worry that in the event of another 9/11, the witch-hunts that follow might lead to innocent people being held under house arrest without trial, or legal rights, just as is supposedly happening at the moment at HMP Belmarsh.
John , Lincoln, England

Can we be assured that the public at large will be safe?
Jo, Nottingham, UK
Whilst I agree that there needs to be some way of dealing with terrorism suspects other than "locking them up and throwing away the key", I really don't think that "house arrest" is a suitable solution. How much money will it cost the taxpayer to monitor the people under house arrest 24 hours a day? How many police officers will need to be allocated to each property/person? Can we be assured that the public at large will be safe? I know that imprisoning suspects without trial is unacceptable but bleeding heart liberals worry me with their cries of "they shouldn't be locked up at all". In society today we can never be too careful, terrorism is a very real issue.
Jo, Nottingham, UK

This is the thin end of the wedge. While most people, myself included, automatically have a desire to lock away terrorists, it is easy to extend that thought to people who 'are known' to be terrorists. There is insufficient proof to take them to court but somebody 'knows'. It's very easy and comfortable to assume that those who 'know' are trustworthy and simply have the country's best interests at heart. But how soon will this be further extended to people who are 'known' to be dangerous in other ways? How soon before political opponents become classified as a danger to the country? How soon before ordinary, outspoken citizens become too dangerous to be allowed to infect the population at large? It couldn't happen, I hear people say. Really?
Gareth, Bermuda

These people are not British citizens. I see no reason for their continued presence in this country. If they cannot be tried, deport them and spend the money they are costing the taxpayer on something useful.
Dave, Sheffield, UK

More and more powers will be taken by the state
David, Manchester, UK
This is another step along the road of a police state. The house arrest legislation will apply to all UK citizens/subjects. More and more powers will be taken by the state but the majority will go along with it as we are being taught that we should be afraid. And we should ... of the government. These powers, once enacted will probably never come off the statute books.
David, Manchester, UK

This isn't any better, "suspects" are still being held without trial whether they are held at home or in prison. If there is evidence that suggests they are terror suspects, put them on trial. If not, they should be free.
Jill, UK

This is a fundamental attack on human rights and the rights of all UK citizens. The law lords have declared the incarceration of foreign nationals without trial as illegal - so this government extends the procedure to all us! Who will be the first - a Muslim, an Irishman, an animal rights activist, an anti war protestor, an environmentalist, a liberal, or you? Who will speak out then?
Ralph Williams, Cambridge, UK

Put them on trial, put the evidence before a jury. Then, lock them up if they are found guilty or let them go if they are not. This is what British justice is about and as a nation we should still be proud of this system.
Frank, Bristol, UK

These policies fail to address the really important issue
Tom, London
Just because you intern someone in their home, tag them and ban them from using the telephone or the internet rather than interning them in Belmarsh doesn't mean that they are not being indefinitely detained without trial. These policies fail to address the really important issue, which is that suspects should be charged or released in a timely fashion. If the government has evidence, let it bring it forward and give these men a chance to answer the currently secret allegations against them.
Tom, London

Surely the priority must be towards the safety and rights of UK citizens? If we have the slightest doubt about any foreigner they should be deported immediately. This proposal merely opens the door further to terrorism.
Ian, Bristol, UK

House arrest, for this is what it amounts to, is more suited to totalitarian regimes than the UK. If there is already evidence against these people they should be tried and deported. If they are suspected of law-breaking they should be investigated and tried if the evidence supports it. End of story.
Brian W, Chelmsford, UK

Perhaps I'm being naive here, but why aren't they just put on trial? If they're charged with a serious offence and a trial date set, then the government is at liberty to hold them in custody. If they aren't under arrest, then they should be set free. There is no middle ground - innocent until proven guilty.
Mo C, UK

If there's enough evidence against these people to bring a 'Control Order' against them, then let the Government present it in a Court of law and have a judge and jury decide guilt and sentencing. Anything else is a mockery of our 'free country' status.
Richard Price, Chippenham, UK

No, they do not go far enough. This country seems to be more concerned with the 'human rights' of terror suspects than with the national security of our country.
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK

The issue is not where and how these people are held, it is about their not being told the charges against them, and not being given a fair trial. If they are terrorists, then they should be in jail, if they are not, they should be allowed to get on with their lives.
Tim Watkins, Cardiff




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