Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism
Mr Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey, Liberal Democrat)
I sincerely hope that we would not allow that to happen. One argument that I have heard in regard to Guantanamo bay is that it has American jurisdiction, so America is allowed to determine the matter. However, I was troubled by a ruling by a court in the United States that that was outside its legal jurisdiction. That seemed entirely incompatible with all traditions of human rights and international law. We must have stronger voices from the Foreign Office.
The tradition in this country has always been that people have a right to a trial before the courts can lock them up. The imprisonment of suspected terrorists, no matter how few or how many, without charge or trial is an extraordinary departure from the norm. We opposed those powers 15 months ago because we did not believe that the case for them was made out sufficiently to mean that other alternatives would not have sufficed. However, given that there is, as every one of us across the House must accept, a real and ongoing terrorist threat, we are prepared to accept the renewal of the powers for the limited further period of a year.
In the meantime, it is a consolation that the Government's activities are subject to the strongest scrutiny, both by Parliament and the courts, but it is better to have occasional exemptions and derogations from the Human Rights Act 1998 than not to have a convention on human rights or a Human Rights Act at all. We are prepared to argue for the continuing tradition of human rights in this country on the basis that we will always be vigilant and that we will always hold the Government to account.