Belgian interior minister slams UK anti-terror laws

11th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 March 2005, BRUSSELS - Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has denounced the British government’s new anti-terrorism legislation as "unacceptable".

11 March 2005

BRUSSELS - Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has denounced the British government’s new anti-terrorism legislation as "unacceptable".

Dewael made his remarks at an international anti-terrorism conference in Madrid on Thursday, a day before the UK parliament finally approved the new legislation after much bitter wrangling.

On Friday, La Libre Belgique reported that Dewael, who represented Belgium at the conference, had said the new British proposals were dangerous since they would give the government new powers to order house arrest and impose curfews and electronic tagging without trial.

Under the new law, the UK government will have to apply to a judge to issue house arrest orders, but in an emergency a minister can immediately order lesser measures like curfews and electronic tagging and seek court approval within seven days.

Dewael insisted on Thursday that if, as subsequently happened, the legislation was approved he would find it unacceptable.

"The police or home office can deprive people of their liberty without the intervention of a judge," said Dewael.

"The separation of powers must be respected. Arrests must be endorsed by a magistrate. If that takes too long, I would get those procedures speeded up, but they mustn’t disappear," he added

"I refuse to go down the road of a kind of permanent state of alert," the minister continued.

The UK legislation is set to come up for review in a year.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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