The terrorist suspects arrested this week will be able to remain in Britain indefinitely and at public expense whether or not they are found guilty. That is the conclusion of a report issued today by the think-tank Migrationwatch which also recommends that we pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and write our own human rights law appropriate to the new age of terrorism.
The report points out that Britain’s continued adherence to the ECHR is an attraction for terrorists to operate in and from Britain, secure in the knowledge that, even if convicted, they cannot be deported after serving their sentences.
Article 3 of the Convention prohibits torture or inhumane treatment in member countries. It has been extended by case law to prohibit deportation to countries where there is a risk of such treatment. It is no longer possible, therefore, to balance the risk to the deportee against the risk that he might pose to British society.
The ECHR also inhibits action against foreign citizens suspected of terrorism. Indefinite detention was struck down by the Law Lords in 2004. The replacement measures, Control Orders, have been so weakened by the courts that seven suspects have already absconded.
The report therefore recommends that Britain should withdraw from the ECHR giving 6 months notice, as is her right. At the same time, there should be a public announcement that, from the date of withdrawal, any foreign citizen arrested and subsequently convicted of a terrorist offence will be deported to his own country on completion of his sentence with a right of appeal that could only be exercised after departure.
Suspicion of terrorist offences would not be sufficient to justify deportation but the new terrorist threat requires that provision be made for lengthy periods of detention in the interests of public safety.
Thus, the ECHR and the 1998 Human Rights Act (which is based on it) should be replaced by a revised Act which, while preserving intact human rights generally, excludes convicted terrorists and provides for the long term detention of terror suspects.
Some have claimed that withdrawal from the ECHR would require withdrawal from the European Union (EU) but the report makes it clear that this is false.
Commenting, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said "We now face a terrorist threat of a completely different order from past threats. We are told that there are literally thousands of suspects some of whom are prepared to mount suicidal attacks against entirely civilian targets. The ECHR renders foreign terrorists safe from deportation and, in effect, provides them with a meal ticket for life. It was drawn up 50 years ago in entirely different circumstances. We must now pull out of it and write our own laws to protect human rights for the majority."