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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 13:32 GMT
Anti-terror laws unveiled
Armed British police with twin towers wreckage in background
Emergency plans to give police, customs and other agencies extra powers to tackle the terrorism threat have been published by the government.

The proposals include allowing some foreign-born terrorist suspects to be detained without trial in a move described by civil rights group Liberty as "a fundamental violation of the rule of law".

Anti-terror plans
Race hate laws extended to cover religion
Harsher penalties for attack hoaxers
Swift asylum system reform
Full access to air and ferry passenger lists for security services
Detention without trial for foreign suspects
Financial institutions required to report suspicious transactions
The bill is the government's legislative response to the 11 September attacks on the United States and ministers hope it will be law by Christmas.

It extends race hate laws to cover religious hate in a move welcomed by the Muslim community, which has been targeted in a spate of attacks across the UK in the wake of the American terror attacks.

The proposals also include new penalties for people who carry out hoaxes involving bio-chemical, radioactive or nuclear weapons, triggered by scores of anthrax scares across the UK, none of which proved real.

Tightened rules requiring the reporting of suspicious transactions by financial institutions are also outlined, along with powers to freeze suspected terror funds and tightened rules for bureaux de change.

Extra police powers cover security at airports and demonstrations, where people can be forced to remove masks and gloves.

Asylum reform

In plans to reform the asylum system, certain rights of appeal would be removed for suspected terrorists and the substance of their asylum claims will no longer have to be considered.

And telecommunications companies would be able to keep data on phone calls, faxes and e-mails - but not their contents - for national security reasons.

But most controversial are the plans for detention without trial of foreign nationals suspected of terrorism who cannot be deported under existing immigration laws.

Home Secretary David Blunkett
David Blunkett says the measures are not internment
Home Secretary David Blunkett has denied the measure, subject to renewal by Parliament every year, amounted to internment and said it will only affect a "handful of people".

He said had decided against sending people back to regimes where they faced "certain death or torture".

"They will have the right to a proper hearing, the right to appeal, but we will detain them if the evidence base is such from security services that they pose a risk," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Suspects can be detained indefinitely under the proposals, although every six months the authorities can be forced to review an individual's case.

Challenge ahead

The Home Office says the suspects would be free to leave Britain at any time to a "safe" third country, if one was prepared to take them.

Civil rights campaigners have said they will challenge the move in the European courts, and warn the measures could anger British Muslims.

John Wadham, director of Liberty, said: "The internment proposal is by some way the worst proposal in a generally alarming and ill-conceived bill.

"As with all governments, other illiberal measures are being smuggled in under the cover of proposals to deal with the events of 11 September."

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin said the Tories backed the measures as a "reluctant addition" so people judged to threaten national security could be deported or prevented from entering the UK.

But Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Norman Baker said the measures could be construed as a "victory for the terrorists".

As the emergency bill was published, ministers said it had not been drawn-up in haste, stressing the two month drafting process, and that it would not be rushed through parliament without adequate scrutiny.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Far more of what we do is likely to be monitored"
Home Secretary David Blunkett
"We are not threatening the civil liberties of this country"

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SPECIAL REPORTS
 VOTE RESULTS
Are new terror laws justified?

Yes
 55.21% 

No
 44.79% 

5671 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

13 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Ministers defend terror crackdown
13 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Terror laws at-a-glance
13 Nov 01 | UK
Lessons of 'internment'
12 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Terror detention move under way
12 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Law boosts terror cash crackdown
15 Oct 01 | UK Politics
UK anti-terror measures unveiled
28 Sep 01 | Business
Net closes on terror cash
26 Sep 01 | UK Politics
UK to review extradition measures
20 Sep 01 | UK Politics
EU must act fast on terror - Blunkett
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