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Top UK opposition MP resigns to protest 42-day terrorism detention bill

[JURIST] The UK shadow Home Secretary resigned [statement text; video] his parliamentary seat Thursday in protest at House of Commons passage Wednesday of an anti-terror bill [materials; BBC Q/A] that would allow authorities to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days [JURIST news archive]. Conservative Party frontbencher David Davis [party profile] called the Labour Party government's bill an "insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms," and said that by resigning and forcing a by-election in which he will run, he could take the issue to his constituents for public debate. The House of Lords must still pass the Counter-Terrorism Bill 2007-2008 for it to become law, but Davis suggested that politically motivated government officials might invoke the Parliament Act [backgrounder, PDF] to allow the bill to pass without House of Lords consent.

Current British law authorizes detention without charge for 28 days [JURIST report], but proponents of the 42-day detention limit have argued that the 28-day limitation endangers national security. Critics of the bill, including Davis, say that it would be an unacceptable abridgment of basic rights, and Davis said Thursday that if he is re-elected, he will continue to fight against it. The Guardian has more.

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