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UK control orders in force against 11: Home Office minister

[JURIST] UK Home Office minister Tony McNulty [official profile] told members of Parliament in a written statement [text] to the House of Commons Thursday that control orders [JURIST news archive] limiting movement and restricting the rights of uncharged individuals are currently in force against 11 people suspected of terrorist activity, down from a previous 15. The names of the suspects were withheld for security reasons. Only four of the control order subjects are British citizens. He reported that three orders against individuals who absconded [JURIST report] last year have expired and have not been renewed. An additional order was revoked after that individual received a prison sentence for an unrelated offense.

McNulty said:

Control orders continue to be an essential tool to protect the public from terrorism, particularly where it is not possible to prosecute individuals for terrorism-related activity and, in the case of foreign nationals, where they cannot be removed from the UK.

As stated in previous quarterly statements on control orders, control order obligations are tailored to the individual concerned and are based on the terrorism-related risk that individual poses. Each control order is kept under regular review to ensure that obligations remain necessary and proportionate. The Home Office continues to hold control order review groups (CORGs) every quarter, with representation from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to keep the obligations in every control order under regular and formal review and to facilitate a review of appropriate exit strategies.
Last month the Commons approved a measure [JURIST report] extending until March 2009 the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 governing control orders.

Control orders [BBC backgrounder] 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 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 violate human rights. AP has more.

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