British Court of Human Rights Rules Indefinite Detention Without Charge Wrong

The policy, which allowed foreign nationals to be detained without police interview, charge or trial whilst British suspects roamed free, failed to address the security issue whilst irrationally discriminating against one group of suspects.

Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti said;

“Of course the Court of Human Rights has vindicated the Law Lords 2004 ruling that detention without trial was a bad policy that failed to address either fairness or security.”

“£2 per day of unlawful detention is hardly hitting the jackpot. Whilst the damages will disappoint the detainees, they explode the myth of the human rights compensation culture.”

The Court said:

“The choice by the Government and Parliament of an immigration measure to address what was essentially a security issue had the result of failing adequately to address the problem, while imposing a disproportionate and discriminatory burden of indefinite detention on one group of suspected terrorists.”

The Government eventually replaced the unlawful detention policy with the current system of Control Orders, which allows indefinite house arrest for British and foreign national suspects alike on the basis of secret intelligence instead of charges. So whilst President Obama promises to close Guantanamo Bay (never happened), Britain’s policy of punishment without charge has run continuously from December 2001 and effectively continues to this day.

Mairi Clare Rodgers on 0207 378 3656 or 0797 3 831 128

Notes to Editors

  1. The Court of Human Rights judgment is available for download at
  2. The 2004 House of Lords ruling on the detention of foreign national terror suspects at Belmarsh can be found at
  3. Control Orders were brought in by the Government under the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act after the Law Lords ruled that indefinite detention without charge for foreign terror suspects in Belmarsh prison violated their human rights. A control order severely restricts who a person can meet, where they can go and all cases have involved electronic tagging. Restrictions have included 14-hour curfews and bans on unauthorised visitors and internet access. Control orders can last indefinitely. The person does not have to be accused of any crime and does not have to be told why he is under suspicion.


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