Control Orders to Combat Terror:
Replacing One Kind of Detention For Another
in the United Kingdom
- Stephanie Aiyagari
London Liaison Officer
Guantánamo Bay Naval Base is in the news yet again. After admitting
lack of evidence to prosecute, U.S. authorities released four
people to the British authorities on 25 January 2005 who had been
held at the base in Cuba for up to three years. After arresting
the men under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 for suspicion
of involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of
acts of terrorism, the authorities released them to their families
the following night.
According to his lawyer, Gitanjali Gutierrez, detainee Feroz Abbasi claimed to have experienced harsh interrogation techniques while in Cuba. He said he was held in long-term isolation, denied access outdoors, and injected with a substance inducing psychosis. Abbasi suffered mental breakdowns and hallucinations while in custody. The questioning in Britain added to further stress and panic. Abbasi’s statements to his lawyer is similar to the accounts of the other three released British detainees.
The British Government’s
proposed Control Orders announced on 27 January 2005, if passed
will lead to terror suspects being forced into a kind of detention,
which will in effect curtail individual liberty and repress human
rights. Suspects such as Abassi and the more than a dozen other
being held in the United Kingdom (UK), mainly in Belmarsh prison
and Broadmoor high security hospital may be subjected to heightened
surveillance including electronic tagging, curfews, and barred
from usage of mobile phones or the internet. The house arrest
clause has raised political opposition, particularly in upper
parliamentary chamber, the House of Lords, and at the European
Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Orders in the face of it might appear to be a preferable alternative
to the indefinite detention without trial used against terror
suspects under the Terrorism Act of 2000 (TACT) and the Anti-Terrorism,
Crime and Security Act of 2001 (ATCSA). One reason why human rights
supporters have argued against indefinite detention is that the
grounds for detention under TACT or ATCSA need only be reasonable
for suspecting involvement in terrorist activity. This low threshold
has historically been the basis for initial arrest, not for incarceration
that potentially lasts a lifetime.
is also seen as problematic because it is almost always fundamentally
unfair,1 and it tends to condone if not promote torture. For these
reasons, several United Nations (UN) human rights rapporteurs
expressed their continuing concern about the treatment of detainees
in Guantánamo Bay on 4 February 2005.