The Guardian 26 April, 2006

British court rules:
control orders infringe human rights


The British High Court has overturned the first control order to be placed on a British citizen with judges ruling that the law was incompatible with human rights legislation.

The government says the order had been imposed on a man, named in court as "S", because it suspected that he intended to travel to Iraq to fight US and British forces.

The order was imposed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act which was rushed through parliament just before the last election.

Under the legislation, a person who is subject to a control order can be restricted to their home, have restrictions placed on who they associate with, be forced to hand in their passports, and must give law enforcement officers unrestricted access to their homes.

Similar anti-democratic laws were passed in Australia by the Howard Government, also in the name of fighting terrorism.

Control orders can be imposed for up to 12 months, repeatedly renewed at the request of the British Home Secretary, all without a court trial, on the mere grounds of suspicion of involvement with terrorism.

Justice Sullivan said that it "would be an understatement" to say that the orders do not give controlees a right to a fair hearing under the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The issue raised in these proceedings is whether the Act gives the respondent the fair hearing to which he is entitled", he said. "The answer to that question is no."

"The thin veneer of legality ... cannot disguise the reality that controlees’ rights under the convention are being determined not by an independent court ... but by executive decision-making untrammelled by any prospect of effective judicial supervision."

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