The fight against terrorism: the United Nations calls the United Kingdom to order
Paris – Saltash, 28 July 2008
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has just published its recommendations on the human rights situation in the United Kingdom. It remains greatly concerned about the measures taken by the government with respect to asylum seekers and terrorist suspects.
In considering the sixth periodic report of the United Kingdom on implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee has adopted several recommendations. These recommendations largely reflect the report submitted jointly to the Committee experts by FIACAT (the International Federation for Action by Christians for the Abolition de la Torture) and ACAT-UK (Action by Christians Against Torture in the United Kingdom).
The Committee is particularly concerned about the treatment of persons suspected of belonging to a terrorist group. As a result, the experts have called on the UK authorities to take every possible step to ensure that no individuals, including persons suspected of terrorism, are returned to a country where they risk being subjected to torture or ill-treatment.
The Committee is further alarmed by the length of the period of detention without charge for terrorist suspects, which currently stands at 28 days and could be extended to 42 days in the very near future. It calls on the United Kingdom to do its utmost to ensure that an individual who is arrested is promptly informed of any charge against him or her and tried within a reasonable time or released. The Committee experts have given the UK authorities one year in which to make progress in this area.
FIACAT and ACAT-UK welcome the fact that the situation with regard to asylum seekers – and children in particular – has been raised. While most asylum-seekers are detained in immigration centres, a minority of them, children included, continues to be held in prisons. The Committee therefore calls on the UK Government to take immediate measures to ensure that all failed asylum seekers who are detained pending deportation are held only in centres specifically designed for that purpose.
FIACAT and ACAT-UK trust that the government will grasp the urgency of the situation and set about remedying the problems raised by the Committee experts forthwith. In this context, the NGOs call on the United Kingdom to undertake an overhaul of its anti-terrorism policy, which seriously undermines civil liberties. They will be keeping a close eye on developments.
ACAT-UK: Terry et Eleanor Newland
FIACAT: Guillaume Colin
firstname.lastname@example.org – 00 33 (0)1 42 80 01 60
For further information:
6th periodic report of United Kingdom
Alternative report by ACAT United-Kingdom and FIACAT on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right by the United-Kingdom
List of Issues
Written replies of United Kingdom
Concluding Observations of the Committee