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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Fresh attack on UK's human rights
High security convoy leaving Belmarsh
Some detainees suffered physically in Belmarsh, the report states
The UK's treatment of terror suspects has been attacked for the second day in a row in a European watchdog's report.

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has criticised the UK's treatment of suspects as "inhuman and degrading".

The report highlights the treatment of prisoners held in Belmarsh jail.

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Alvaro Gil-Robles, on Wednesday said control orders violated basic rights - a claim ministers deny.

Control orders measure - which can involve effectively placing a person under house arrest if the home secretary believes it is necessary - was described as "inherently one-sided" by Mr Alvaro.

'Shocking'

The CPT report into the treatment of foreigners detained in the UK under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act follows a visit to Belmarsh in March last year.

The report says many of the suspects were in a poor mental state as a result of detention, and some were also in poor physical condition.

We have always warned that to allow standards of justice to drop is to give an easy victory to terrorists
David Davis
Shadow home secretary

Detention had caused mental disorders for the majority of people held under the Act, it went on.

"The CPT concluded that for some of them, their situation at the time of the visit could be considered as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment," said the report.

The UK Government has already rejected the CPT's findings.

It argues that those held received "humane and decent" treatment and appropriate levels of medical and psychological care throughout their detention.

Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Ludford, the party's European Parliament spokeswoman on justice affairs, said the watchdog had "slammed" the government for the second time in two days.

"It is truly shocking for the Blair government to maintain that racist and verbal abuse by staff at Belmarsh Prison is part of a balanced response to the terrorist threat," she said.

Wednesday's report by Mr Alvaro expressed concern about anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), the asylum system and overcrowding in prisons.

Shadow home secretary David Davis had warned that the government's anti-terror laws should not act as a "recruiting sergeant for terrorists".

"We have always warned that to allow standards of justice to drop is to give an easy victory to terrorists," he said.

"This alarming report shows that the government did not take our warnings very seriously.

"Not only is this the wrong approach, it is ineffective since such behaviour will act as a recruiting sergeant for potential future terrorists."

The Prevention of Terrorism Act, which introduced the control orders, was only approved by peers after a marathon debate on the powers earlier this year.


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