A well-researched, well-argued piece by Johann Hari about the totalitarian policies of Home Secretary David Blunkett, and Britain’s failure to learn from the miscarriages of justice that came to light in the 1990s:
Twelve Muslim men are being held indefinitely in Belmarsh Prison. They are boxed into small cells for 22 hours a day. Their offence? They don’t know, and nor do you. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000, even their lawyers have no right to be told why they are being detained. After two years, there are no plans to charge them with any crime.
This is not punishment, it is judicial kidnapping. The canon of Western law – built upon habeas corpus – was designed to prevent precisely this arbitrary exercise of power. Blunkett sneers that only residents of NW3 would worry about such trivia.
The Home Secretary seems to have genuinely missed the point of civil liberties. By ensuring that the police and politicians are not just rounding up the usual suspects, proper judicial process actually makes everyone safer. When the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six were jailed, it wasn’t only their lives that were ruined; real terrorists were left free to carry on murdering – and there are graveyards full of innocent people who can vouch for it. Blunkett’s plan for constricting civil liberties is based on a trade-off – liberty for security – that does not work in reality.
More from my personal Johann Hari Echo Chamber in a later post.