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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 16:58 GMT
Terror detainee calls for release
A foreign national held in the UK under terror laws has called for his release following a Law Lords' ruling that nine men were being detained unlawfully.

The country's highest judges ruled that detaining foreign terrorism suspects without trial breaks human rights laws, and said the detainees could appeal.

The detainee said the government should "release me and the other internees to return to our families and loved ones".

He called for the "illegal law" under which he is held to be scrapped.

Most of the nine detainees are being held in Belmarsh prison, south London.

'Enough is enough'

The Law Lords said the "draconian" measures were incompatible with European human rights laws and the government must pay the appeal costs.

In a statement released by his lawyer Gareth Peirce after the ruling, the detainee, known as "A", said: "I am very pleased at this decision.

"It proves that however erroneous the policies of the government are there will always be an independent judiciary that will be there to say that enough is enough," he said.

"This ruling should send a message to the legislators that 'national security' can never take precedent over human rights."

Ms Peirce, who represents eight of the detainees, also called for the government to act quickly and release the men.

By acting as judge, jury and jailer, the government has flouted the very values it claims to defend
Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti

"It will provoke an enormous constitutional crisis if the government fails to act swiftly," she said.

If there is no swift action from the government then the detainees could ask the European Court of Human Rights to be involved, she added.

"It would be unconstitutional for the government to hold out against such a very strong judgment."

Ms Peirce claimed that the detention had driven four of the detainees to "madness" and that two were in Broadmoor.

The ruling was also welcomed by civil rights groups.

'Act honourably'

The director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, said the ruling was "hugely welcomed".

"Morally, legally, a very clear message has been sent to the government," she insisted, adding: "We are very hopeful that the new home secretary will take the opportunity to ensure that human rights are firmly back on the agenda."

Home Secretary Charles Clarke
Human rights groups hope new Home Secretary Charles Clarke will end the policy of detention

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said she was "delighted" at the ruling.

"By acting as judge, jury and jailer, the government has flouted the very values it claims to defend.

"It must now act honourably and charge or release all those currently held."

It would be "unprecedented" if the government chose to ignore the Law Lords ruling, she said.

Ms Chakrabarti also called on the new home secretary Charles Clarke to "act promptly to end the policy of detention without trial".

'Respect for liberties'

The Muslim Council of Britain said it accepted the government had an obligation to protect its citizens, but said it also had to "respect their liberties and freedoms."

"The cornerstone of our justice system is that it should be open and transparent, " said MCB general secretary Iqbal Sacranie.

"Neither these men nor their lawyers were even informed about the actual allegations against them," he said.

He added that the law was clearly unfair and discriminatory.

"Indeed, if there really is a public emergency threatening the life of our nation then it is strange that the current law only applies to foreign nationals and not to British nationals," he said.


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