In the Guardian: Government clings on to discredited control orders

12.7.09

The Guantanamo FilesFor the Guardian’s Comment is free, “Testing control orders” is an article I wrote examining the latest developments in the British government’s increasingly beleaguered policy of detaining “terror suspects” without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence, using draconian control orders which constitute a form of house arrest.

The article deals with the case of Mahmoud Abu Rideh, who story I covered in three articles a week last Friday (“Seven years of madness: the harrowing tale of Mahmoud Abu Rideh and Britain’s anti-terror laws,” “Would you be able to cope?: Letters by the children of control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh,” and “Control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh to be allowed to leave the UK”), and a British national, identified only as BM, who was subjected to what his lawyers described as “internal exile,” when, in May, he was forcibly removed from his home in London to a one-bedroom flat in Leicester.

In the High Court, a week ago, a judge ordered the government to return BM to London, not because he disagreed with the government’s assessment of the threat he posed, but because of a ruling by the Law Lords a month ago — upholding an earlier European court ruling — in which the Lords dealt a major blow to the government by defending the right of those on control orders not to be deprived of their liberty without being given an opportunity to challenge the supposed evidence against them.

Despite this ruling, I was obliged to report, after interviewing Gareth Peirce, the solicitor for many of the men on control orders, that the government has shown no willingness to abide by the Lords’ decision, unless forced to do so by a court, and I anticipate, therefore, that many more legal challenges will be forthcoming, as the government struggles to dig itself out of a lawless and unprincipled hole of its own making.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

For other articles dealing with Belmarsh, control orders, deportation bail, deportations and extraditions, see Deals with dictators undermined by British request for return of five Guantánamo detainees (August 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: the troubling tale of Tunisian Belmarsh detainee Hedi Boudhiba, extradited, cleared and abandoned in Spain (August 2007), Guantánamo as house arrest: Britain’s law lords capitulate on control orders (November 2007), The Guantánamo Britons and Spain’s dubious extradition request (December 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: control orders renewed, as one suspect is freed (February 2008), Spanish drop “inhuman” extradition request for Guantánamo Britons (March 2008), UK government deports 60 Iraqi Kurds; no one notices (March 2008), Repatriation as Russian Roulette: Will the Two Algerians Freed from Guantánamo Be Treated Fairly? (July 2008), Abu Qatada: Law Lords and Government Endorse Torture (February 2009), Ex-Guantánamo prisoner refused entry into UK, held in deportation centre (February 2009), Home Secretary ignores Court decision, kidnaps bailed men and imprisons them in Belmarsh (February 2009), Britain’s insane secret terror evidence (March 2009), Torture taints all our lives (published in the Guardian’s Comment is free), Britain’s Guantánamo: Calling For An End To Secret Evidence, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (1) Detainee Y, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (2) Detainee BB, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (3) Detainee U, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (4) Hussain Al-Samamara, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (5) Detainee Z, Britain’s Guantánamo: Fact or Fiction? and URGENT APPEAL on British terror laws: Get your MP to support Diane Abbott’s Early Day Motion on the use of secret evidence (all April 2009), and Taking liberties with our justice system and Death in Libya, betrayal in the West (both for the Guardian).

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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