LONDON (AFP) – Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that Britain would be in danger if foreign terror suspects were freed after the nation’s highest court ruled that detaining such people indefinitely without trial or charge violated their human rights.
“It is a heavy responsibility to allow people out on our street who we know, or believe, may want to cause death or destruction to our citizens,” Blair told the House of Commons, the lower house of parliament.
He said he had to “put the security of the British people first” because the security services had informed the government there is a “reasonable suspicion” such people “are engaged in plotting terrorist activity.” A special panel of Law Lords decided Thursday by 8-1 that the jailing of nine people on suspicion of terrorism alone breached both democratic norms and international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The ruling does not overturn the law under which the men are held, the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, but the government will now have to return to parliament and amend the legislation to take into account the Law Lords’ views. “When we discuss this with our security services, they do indicate that if we let people out we cannot guarantee that we can survey them adequately, we can’t guarantee that we’re not going to lose some of those people,” Blair said.