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UK parliament panel calls for terror laws review

[JURIST] The UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights [official website] recommended Thursday that the government review anti-terror laws and policies [report, PDF; press release] passed since the 9/11 [JURIST news archive] attacks to make sure they are necessary and do not violate human rights. The committee found that, despite claiming to support human rights, many government policies appeared to threaten those rights, questioning whether policies that may have been appropriate in the aftermath of the terror attacks should be maintained indefinitely. Concerns cited in the report include the appearance that the government has intentionally turned a blind eye to torture, the increased use of secret evidence in court, and the possibility of detaining suspects without bringing charges. The committee stated, "[w]e are concerned that the Government's approach means that in effect there is a permanent state of emergency, and that this inevitably has a deleterious effect on public debate about the justification for counter-terrorism measures." The report recommended establishing a commission to investigate the government's complicity in torture in light of the recent judgment [JURIST report] in the Binyam Mohammad [JURIST news archive] case. The report also recommended creating an office for a term of five years to study terrorism legislation and report to Parliament on the legislation as it relates to human rights.

Earlier this week, members of Parliament and human rights organizations signed a letter calling for an inquiry [JURIST report] into the UK's role in torture and rendition. Last week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official profile] failed to deliver a promised public revision of guidelines [JURIST report] given to UK intelligence officers for the treatment of detainees. Brown faces growing scrutiny of UK detainee procedures amid allegations from former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Binyam Mohamed that British intelligence officials were involved in his torture in Morocco. In February, rights group Reprieve initiated a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the UK government over its alleged torture of detainees, claiming that its unwillingness to disclose detainee policies suggests that they permit illegal torture.

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