Anti-Terrorism Act

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2005 National Delegate Conference
8 June 2005

Conference welcomes the return to the UK of the British citizens who have been held without trial in Guantanamo Bay but believes that the practice of detaining such suspects without trial should never be tolerated.

Conference therefore welcomes the growing number of voices calling for this practice to be ended in the UK. Conference especially welcomes the ruling in the House of Lords on 16 December 2004 that detention without trial of foreign nationals held in the UK prisons is illegal.

Conference notes the words of one of the judges in the case, Lord Hoffman, who strongly condemned the government’s terrorism laws by stating that “the real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these”.

Conference welcomes the announcement from the Home Secretary that in response to this ruling the government will replace part 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, which allows for the detention without trial of foreign nationals. However, Conference believes that the control orders planned to replace Part 4 do not represent an acceptable solution as they will give the government the power to detain suspects who are resident in Britain indefinitely in their homes.

Conference reaffirms existing policy for a halt on the attack on civil liberties and for the release of prisoners detained without charge at Guantanamo Bay and Belmarsh.

Conference therefore urges the National Executive Council to continue to campaign with organistions such as Liberty to ensure the end of detention without trial and to secure the introduction of legislation that will:

1)accord appropriate respect to the role which parliament granted to the law lords in the Human Rights Act, and to the rule of law more generally;

2)understand that a respect for human rights standards is far from symptomatic of being soft on terrorism or careless about national security and is a necessary building block for effective security;

3)uphold the principle that indefinite detention without trial is never acceptable;

4)ensure that any new anti-terror legislation is founded upon a proportionate response to a real and explained practical need and achieved without derogation from or violation of human rights standards; and

5)reflect the particular importance of the presumption of innocence and equal treatment principles in the anti-terror response of any democratic nation.

Further, Conference notes with concern the recent security legislation passed in Parliament.

Conference declares that:

a)there should be no detention without fair trial;

b)the Prevention of Terrorism Act is an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of association;

c)control orders are contrary to human rights and their use at the whim of the Home Secretary should be stopped;

d)our right to support national liberation struggles of oppressed peoples is compromised by the government’s anti-terrorist measures;

e)the trade union movement should be at the forefront of a campaign to repeal and stop the renewal of the anti-terror legislation.

Conference therefore resolves to organise, with other appropriate organisations, for the repeal of these measures and to promote awareness among UNISON members of the issues involved.