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United Kingdom: Concern over anti-terrorist arrest

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

19 December 2001 EUR 45/028/2001 225/01

Amnesty International is concerned by reports that people are now being arrested under the new anti-terrorism legislation in the UK.

Within days of the UK parliament passing the Anti-Terrorism, Crimes and Security Act, immigration officials backed by the police have raided homes in different cities and arrested and detained up to ten people. Amnesty International said that it would be monitoring developments in the cases and reiterated its grave concern about the legislation.

While recognizing and endorsing the responsibility of states to provide adequate security for their people, Amnesty International said that this should not be at the cost of human rights, "this legislation is creating a shadow criminal justice system in which the normal safeguards protecting the rights to liberty and fair trial are being eroded".

"People suspected of involvement in violent acts should be charged with a recognizable offence promptly and brought to trial within a reasonable period of time and Amnesty International opposes the indefinite detention of suspects under the new legislation," said Amnesty International.

The organization urged the Home Secretary to provide the detainees and their lawyers with the full reasons for their arrest, and to allow the detainees the right to challenge the evidence held against them.

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