[JURIST] British Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile; JURIST news archive] said Sunday in an op-ed [text] published in the Sunday Times that the country has chosen to protect the civil liberties of foreign nationals over national security and therefore could not blame the government for last week's reported disappearance of three terror suspects [JURIST report]. Pointing to a series of court rulings favoring foreign suspects, he wrote:
Over the past five or six years, we have decided as a country that except in the most limited of ways, the threat to our public safety does not justify changing radically the legal basis on which we confront this extremism.
Their right to traditional civil liberties comes first. I believe this is a dangerous misjudgment. This extremism, operating the world over, is not like anything we have faced before. It needs to be confronted with every means at our disposal. Tougher laws in themselves help, but just as crucial is the signal they send out: that Britain is an inhospitable place to practise this extremism.
The three terror suspects who disappeared had been subject to control orders [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] under the Prevention of Terrorism Act [text] and are believed to have been planning attacks on British or US troops. UK Home Secretary John Reid said judges and critics of the government were responsible for the lack of tougher rules to prevent disappearances and said he would introduce new anti-terror measures before he steps down from his post in June.
[JURIST] Thousands of Pakistanis rallied outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Saturday in support of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive], who returned to the court building for the first time since being suspended [JURIST report] by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website]. Saturday's crowd of about 5,000, including many lawyers, chanted "Go Musharraf, go" among other slogans. In a thinly-veiled speech directed at the president, Chaudhry told a seminar that an independent judiciary "is a strong bulwark against abuse of power and tyrannical rule" and added that "abuse of power often occurs in a system of governance where there is centralization of all power in one person or in one institution and that is dangerous."
Musharraf suspended Chaudhry on March 9 "after receiving numerous complaints and serious allegations for misconduct, misuse of authority and actions prejudicial to the dignity of office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan." Many Pakistani lawyers and opposition leaders believe Chaudhry's suspension was an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.
[JURIST] Ukrainian political rivals [JURIST report] President Viktor Yushchenko [official website; JURIST news archive] and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych [BBC profile] agreed Sunday to hold elections on September 30 in a move intended to end an escalating constitutional crisis in the country. Repeating a call [JURIST report] made earlier this year, Yushchenko said the constitutional confrontation which almost led to violence earlier this week as both men struggled for control of key interior ministry troops [JURIST report] showed that the country's constitution itself needed to be changed: "This is a major problem, this makes one question whether the institutes are based on right principles, whether the balance is correct." In particular, Yushchenko said the country's Constitutional Court had failed to work and the Central Elections Commission had failed to guarantee proper elections. Interfax has more. BBC News has additional coverage.
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