T Nation

Detention Without Trial


Not more than 30 minutes ago I watched Tony Blair's encrouchment on civil liberties get shot down thank God. He wanted to extend the permissable detention for terror suspects from 14 days without trial to 90 days without trial. Yes the police need time to investigate, but a quater of a year, with no ctrial?! I'm sorry, that is idiotic and simply unjust. Long term detention without trial may be OK for tyrants and country's who are willing to ignore basic human rights (or who have milatary bases in Cuba which fall outside international law apparently) but I'd like to think the UK actually cares about freedom (and not in the triumphalist 'we invented freedom' of some nations either).

What seriously annoyed me was that Police chief constables wrote letters to MPs trying to influence their votes, and then the Police chief commisioner had the audacity to turn around and say the Police weren't getting involved in politics! At least people saw sense and civil rights prevailed.


Do you honestly believe that 14 days is enough time for any prosecution or defense to mount any kind of case? I don't know how it works over there but we don't detain/arrest with out probable cause here. Once detained some type of bail is usually set and then the prosecution builds a case and the defense puts together its case for defense. This somtimes takes months and months with postponements on both sides. Do you not have a bail system in England? I am not being condascending I am just asking you to help me understand what you are saying.

As for GITMO those are enemy combatants taken off a foreign battlefield. I know it may not sound right but some length of detention is required while the powers that be decide what to do with them. The few that have been released have all gone back to terrorist activities. These are not good people being held at GITMO, these are people who as soon as they walk out the gate would asw your head off in the name of allah.


I'm not sure on the bail situation with relation to terror suspects. One of the really annoying things for me is that the state legislature told Tony Blair 3 month detention was inhumane, but a middle ground of 28 days was feasable. Blair rejected the proposal and said all or nothing. Now he's saying all he wanted to do was protect Britain, yet he refused the 28 day proposal making it look like an attempt a wielding power, an ego trip, more than anything else.


What was he thinking?

I mean who does he think he is trying to protect his country and give his police force an advantage in fighting terrorists. Doesn't he realize it should be a level playing field and those terrorists need to be given a chance to kill the innocent and not be encumbered by being detained until the police can make their case.

I mean honestly what do those police chiefs and constables know! It's not like they know what their doing when combating terrorists like college students and instructors do!!

The nerve of some people.


Amen! After all, what do people think they're doing walking around without supervision, anyway? Don't they understand that we have to imprison people without trial for significant portions of their lives to protect freedom? Don't they understand that the government is there to help them, and would never make a mistake?


I don't understand this whole thing.

Do the English have trials within 14 days of arrest?

Why can't they just arraign them and hold them without bail if they are deemed too dangerous to walk the streets before the trial?

I know there are liberal judges that love cutting criminals loose, but they should all be removed from the bench if they dare cut a terrorist loose.


Dear Hedo,

So when troops die in Iraq fighting for freedom, what does that word "freedom" mean to you? Doesn't habeus corpus (the ability to challenge the lawfullness of ones detention) constitute the most basic of freedoms?

People are paying the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom and you cheer when freedoms are eroded. If you are not for western style freedoms, what do you stand for?

Ben Franklin said "Those who will trade freedom for security deserves neither and will lose both". You sir are the "those" that Mr. Franklin spoke of so many years ago.


Mr. Branigan, the issue here is that the detained idividual will be held for the determined time with no charges beign filed or any chance for the arrestee to contest the detention. Basically habeus corpus has been suspended.

If you have have been charged and bail has been set or denied you at least know the charges against you and you have been to court to hear them and plead.


I don't know what the law is in the UK, but in the US, some suspects are held as material witnesses. This is a sort of legal loophole that allows law enforcement to hold someone virtually indefinitely without bringing any sort of charges. This is a problem.

I do not know if they have a grand jury system in the UK, or if a suspect can simply be apprehended and held for X number of days without any sort of evidence to justify the detention.


It sort of sounds like that England might be looking at the amount of time they can detain these people with something akin to suspiscion as opposed to probable cause.


So the use of the word trial in the original posting was incorrect?

I assume he should have used arraignment instead.

Expecting a criminal trial within 2 weeks seems a bit hasty.

Expecting an appearance before a judge or an arraignment seems more reasonable for suspects detained within the country (not from a foreign battlefield.)

I assume our government wants to avoid the necessity of arraignments because of possible complications. Perhaps we would be better served to address these concerns directly.


Apparently, fear of "terror" is enough of a reason to ignore any freedom we even thought we had. Who knew that all you had to do in order to control masses of people this large is make them think they need so much protection that there should be less freedom.


  • Um, probably every high-level politician and dictator over the past 2000 years. Fear is the most effective tool for controlling a population.

I know you were being sarcastic, by the way. This isn't an assault, I agree with you.


Blairs 90 days is for people who "may" be terrorists - to try and secure information on them pertaining to illegal activities. He was asked in the Commons when was the last time it took 90days (or more than 14) to secure evidence for a conviction against a potential terrorist - he did'nt answer but rather spoke around it.

On the same day as the 90 day vote he started to put forward legislation which will allow on the run terrorists from N.Ireland to come back and not serve a single day in prison. How you like those apples?

While life in N.ireland is improved from what it was terrorists simply give their groups new names and carry on as normal. In a few years time if the US lets Al Quadea's political wing have power due to lots of people voting for them how would you feel? Or letting militant terrorists out of prison before sentences were served? How about it being illegal in places not to fly your own countries flag? Welcome to N.Ireland - you could be next.

Personal freedom is being eroded by the many acts and government legislation being brought in - whats it like in the US - is there any erosion there?

A lot of stuff lately is very reminiscent of Hitler spreading fear in Germany. Terror, fear - praying on peoples emotions to push through dodgy laws which will really only adversly affect a minority grouping.

GITMO? Enemy combatants? Have many being released without charge?

The anti-terror act in the UK has so far managed to detain a mother wheeling her pram and baby because she was on a bicycle path and an old man who heckled a politician at a Labour party conference.

In closing i'd like to say kiss my ass.


Sorry you feel that way.

I was one of those people who served...that's my opinion.

Taking action works. Making it easier for the terrorist doesn't.


Hedo just from experience on this board I find that those who have never done active duty military service in a combat zone have a completely different outlook on things as opposed to those of us who have. These same people don't realize that the enemy-in this case terrorists-doesnt play fair. They don't understand how to attempt to level the playing field(battlefield). They also like to think that we did sometihng to anger these terrorists so it must be our fault, not realizing that if you aren't a muslim extremist you are an "infidel"(i.e. 9 november in Jordan).


Well, here's an idea. Let's institute a systematic terrorism cleansing. We'll pick towns at random, and just imprison 100 or so people at a time from the town. That'll give us enough time to run background checks on them, do searches through their houses or apartments, and ascertain that they are not terrorists. Then we'd go to the next 100 people. Repeat until entire nation has been verified as non-criminal/non-terrorist.


I put this up awhile ago, it is a quote from Herman Goering:

"Why of course the people don't want war... That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

The Nazis knew this.


Or let them prove the case within 90 days instead of 14.


So... three months out of your life, with no requirement of bona fide evidence? I'm sorry, I just cannot see this as a good thing. You tail the suspect, you get your warrants, you collect your evidence, you bring charges. Why should the government be allowed to imprison someone to give them time to "prove the case?" If you know enough to know that the person is imminently dangerous, you have evidence that can be used in a court of law. Unless, of course, you're breaking the law to gather your evidence.

Again, I don't know about the system in the UK... I don't know what requirements there are to arrest a suspect. As such, I can only argue from general principle, and I do not know if my comments directly address the state of affairs as they stand in the UK. I do know that the material witness provision in the US is a travesty, and I hope the UK does not have something similar.