Friday, March 11, 2005

Open letter to Christopher Chope, MP

by Suw on March 11, 2005

Dear Christopher Chope,
I am so disappointed to hear that the 'terror bill' has been passed and will become law.
I strongly believe that as soon as we start eroding the rights and civil liberties that we hold so dear, the terrorists have won. Detaining people indefinitely without trial, even a trial in camera, without them knowing why they have been detained or what the evidence is against them is a clear breach of civil liberties. This is exactly the sort of thing that our government criticises other countries for. What possible excuse is there for thinking that this is reasonable behaviour for a civilised democracy to indulge in?
Kofi Annan recently spoke at the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security. In his keynote speech he said:
“[…] terrorism is a threat to all states and to all peoples, which can strike anytime, anywhere.
“It is a direct attack on the core values the United Nations stands for: the rule of law; the protection of civilians; mutual respect between people of different faiths and cultures; and peaceful resolution of conflict.
“So of course the United Nations must be at the forefront in fighting against it, and first of all in proclaiming, loud and clear, that terrorism can never be accepted or justified, in any cause whatsoever.
“By the same token, the United Nations must continue to insist that, in the fight against terrorism, we cannot compromise on the core values I have listed. In particular, human rights and the rule of law must always be respected. As I see it, terrorism is in itself a direct attack on human rights and the rule of law. If we sacrifice them in our response, we are handing a victory to the terrorists.
“[…] Human rights law makes ample provision for strong counter-terrorist action, even in the most exceptional circumstances. But compromising human rights cannot serve the struggle against terrorism. On the contrary, it facilitates achievement of the terrorist’s objective — by ceding to him the moral high ground, and provoking tension, hatred and mistrust of government among precisely those parts of the population where he is most likely to find recruits.
'Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it.”
You can and should read the full text of the speech here:
The travesty of justice that is Guantanamo Bay must not be allowed to happen in this country. It's already been ruled that detaining terrorist suspects in Belmarsh was unlawful and the lack of civil rights afforded the detainees is disgraceful.
We absolutely must not become the paranoid, terror-obsessed country that the US has become, and I urge you in the strongest possible terms to do all you can to ensure that civil liberties are protected – everyone's civil liberties, not just selected members of society.
Our entire justice system is based on 'innocent until proven guilty' and if we sacrifice that then we sacrifice everything that makes this country a truly free democracy.
Yours sincerely,
Suw Charman

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