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Former UK law lord slams Human Rights Act amendment plan as 'sinister'

[JURIST] Lord Lloyd of Berwick [BBC interview], the retired law lord whose 1996 report on British terrorism law underpinned the Labour Government's 2000 Terrorism Act [text], has condemned attempts by the government to amend the Human Rights Act 1998 [text] with exceptions as "sinister" and warned that parliament should be wary of deviating from the spirit of its underlying convention, the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. Lloyd said the 2000 statute provided adequate protection for both the security and civil liberties of UK and foreign citizens, and that the 2001 Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 [text], which permits the government to detain terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial, already pulled the UK away from compliance with the convention. Agreeing with a 2004 House of Lords ruling [JURIST report; PDF ruling] on the issue, Lloyd said that the indefinite detention clause of the 2001 statute is a "clear breach" of Article 5 [text] of the convention.

The government of Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed doubts [JURIST report] about the Human Rights Act after the High Court in May granted temporary asylum to nine Afghan nationals who hijacked a plane from Afghanistan to the UK in 2000. Blair has since asked [JURIST report] Home Secretary John Reid to look at "whether primary legislation is needed to address the issue of Court rulings which over-rule the Government in a way that is inconsistent with other EU countries interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights." The Times has more. The Independent has additional coverage.

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