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UK MPs extend control order legislation for additional year

[JURIST] The British House of Commons approved an order [text] Thursday extending until March 2009 provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 [HO materials] regarding control orders, which impose restrictions on uncharged terror suspects. The measure was approved by a margin of 267-60. The UK's counter-terrorism law ombudsman said in his third annual report [PDF text; press release] Monday that individual control orders should not exceed two years [JURIST report] in duration except under extraordinary circumstances. Lord Carlile of Berriew found that the current system of control orders is "a justifiable and proportional safety valve for the proper protection of civil society," but argued that time limits should be imposed on the length of control orders.

Control orders [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] allow the British government to impose house arrest and electronic surveillance on suspects and to forbid them from using mobile phones and the Internet when there is not enough evidence to prosecute. They were first introduced [JURIST report] by the government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005 and, apart from being politically controversial, have already run into problems in the courts [JURIST report]. The UK Law Lords ruled [JURIST report] in a series of decisions in October that the government can continue to impose control orders on terror suspects in lieu of detention, but said that some elements of the orders issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 violate human rights. AP has more.

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