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Abolish Control Orders

Comment 25th October 2014

The control order regime should be scrapped. Control orders effectively punish people without giving them a fair trial. They are not compatible with respect for human rights and they impose severe restrictions on the liberty and rights of people suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity. If people are suspected of a criminal offence they should be charged and given a fair trial.

Why does this matter?

The control order regime established in 2005 has undermined the rule of law and eroded human rights protections. It gives government ministers sweeping powers to limit or deny the liberty of UK and foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity, without charge or trial, often on the basis of secret intelligence. The definition of ‘terrorism related activity’ is incredibly broad and vague.

As well as imposing severe restrictions on individuals’ liberty, control orders affect rights to freedom of movement, expression, association, and privacy The effect of the restrictions on those subject to control orders and their families is devastating and can have a profound impact on their physical and mental health.

The legal procedures by which control orders can be challenged are gravely unfair. The court will consider secret evidence which is not disclosed to the person concerned or their lawyer of choice, preventing them from effectively challenging the allegations against them.

In effect, the control order regime bypasses the ordinary criminal justice system by severely restricting the rights of people suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity, including those who have never been charged with any terrorism-related offence and those who have been acquitted at trial.

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