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Control orders have no place in a democratic society

Comment 13th August 2010

Britain's interventions overseas, for example in Iraq and Afghanistan, are usually claimed to seek to establish or support democratic processes and the rule of law. Evidence of anti-democratic practices in other countries includes imprisonment without trial; to maintain the same system here undermines our claims to democracy. One feature of legal systems in democracies is openness: a trial involves an open declaration of the accusation and supporting arguments and evidence on both sides. Control orders exist precisely because the government does not have enough evidence to bring the accused to court. The government provides a mechanism to safeguard against unfairness in the form of an independent reviewer of the evidence, but since that process is secret, it remains anti-democratic.

If the 'controlled' person is indeed guilty of planning or supporting attacks on us, then removing control orders increases the risk, but that is a risk worth taking. Defending our society includes defending our civil liberties and democracy.  We have been here before: secret IRA trials did nothing to make us safer.

Why does this matter?

Control orders undermine the basis of our society

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