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UK court rules control order breaches terror suspect's right to fair trial

[JURIST] A British court on Wednesday held that procedures undertaken to restrain a suspected terrorist under the UK's Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) [text; Wikipedia backgrounder] breached the suspect's human rights. Although the court did not say that it was illegal for UK Home Office Secretary Charles Clarke to authorize control orders [JURIST report] for terror suspects, the High Court judge declared that the orders, as imposed on the suspect, violated his right to a fair trial under the Human Rights Act [text] and were an "affront to justice." Control orders can range from electronic tagging to house arrest and in this case the suspect had been restricted from traveling to Iraq, where he allegedly planned to fight US troops, without any type of hearing or trial. Justice Sullivan ruled [decision text] that it was "conspicuously unfair" that there was no judicial review of control orders and that the review process provided for in the Prevention of Terrorism Act was the equivalent of "executive decision-making, untrammelled by any prospective of effective judicial supervision."

Amnesty International UK [advocacy website] commended [press release] the ruling and said that all suspects under the PTA are entitled to a fair trial. The case represents the first court review of 12 control orders authorized by Clarke and the Home Office has said it will appeal the decision. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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