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UK parliamentary panel opposes extending terror detention without charge limit

[JURIST] The UK parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) [official website] Friday issued a report [PDF text] opposing a proposal by the government to extend the time limit on detaining terror suspects [JURIST report] from 28 to 42 days. The JCHR concluded that the government had not made an adequate case for the increase and that:

i) it can find no clear evidence of likely need in the near future;
ii) alternatives to extension do enough, in combination, to protect the public and are much more proportionate;
iii) the proposed parliamentary mechanism would create a serious risk of prejudice to the fair trial of suspects;
iv) the existing judicial safeguards for extensions even up to 28 days are inadequate.
The JCHR report came less than a day after the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee [official website] published a similar report [PDF text], saying that "neither the police nor the Government has made a convincing case that the current limit of 28 days is inadequate at this time."

Earlier this month, UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith proposed [press release; HO materials] extending the current pre-charge time limit for the detention of terrorist suspects. Smith's proposal followed statements made last June by former UK Home Secretary John Reid calling for longer pre-charge time limits, as well as a proposal [JURIST reports] floated in July that would have allowed the extension of the 28-day limit after a declared state of emergency and would have allowed judges to authorize weekly extensions for up to 56 days subject to parliamentary notification. The Guardian has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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