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The right to a fair trial is one of the key points established within the human rights act 1998.

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The right to a fair trial is one of the key points established within the human rights act 1998. ECHR Article 6 (1) & (3)(c), in summary, states that everyone charged with a criminal offence is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and has the right: 'to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require'. Article 6 is one of the most significant convention articles and the one that is most frequently found to be violated.1 The far-reaching powers contained in new legislation have led the Government to derogate from Article 5 of the ECHR just over a year after the HRA came into force2. This decision flies in the face of the Government's commitment to human rights and has proved difficult to justify, as I will show in this assignment. Since the beginning of the 21st century the British Government has introduced two new pieces of legislation to deal with the now worldwide threat of terrorism. The Terrorism Act 2000 is the primary piece of UK counter-terrorist legislation and it has introduced new measures in the fight against terrorism. Passed by Parliament on 20 July 2000, it came into force on 19 February 2001 in response to the changing threat from international terrorism, and replaced the previous temporary anti-terrorism legislation that dealt primarily with Northern Ireland. Following on from this the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (ATCSA) ...read more.


In relation to the anti-terrorism act 2001 the main point concerning this essay permits the detention of suspected terrorists without trial, potentially indefinitely19. The Act is grafted onto immigration legislation, and therefore only applies to non-UK nationals. The legislation allowing detention without trial is contained in Part IV (Immigration and Asylum) of the Act. In order to protect the act from challenge the government derogated in respect of Article 5(1) (f)20 of the European Convention on Human Rights as mentioned previously. The legislation has been challenged in the courts under the Human Rights Act, and at first instance was found to be incompatible with Article 14 (the right to non-discrimination in respect of Convention rights) because it discriminated between nationals and non-nationals. However, the Court of Appeal, on policy grounds, overturned this decision21. Currently in the United Kingdom there are ten people held without charge in Belmarsh prison that have been there for over two years. One judge Lord Goldsmith, acting for the government in the recent appeal, defended the use of indefinite detention, describing it as 'a legitimate and appropriate response to protect the human rights of the suspected international terrorists'.22 The argument against this is, 'that in a democracy it is unacceptable to lock up potentially innocent people without trial or without any indication when, if ever, they are going to be released. It is doubly unacceptable for a democracy committed to the principles of equality and anti-discrimination to single out foreign nationals when it is not prepared to apply the same measures to its own nationals.' 23 In this case of the presumed terrorists almost all of article 6 has been destroyed. ...read more.


In the case of Murray v UK42 it was accepted that Article 6 also applies at the stage of police interrogations, and not just when charges are brought against the detainee. One way the government has got around article 6 is the requirement of audio recording of police interrogations. This safeguard, coupled with the possibility of video recording, has helped narrow the room for abuse and minimise the possibility of Article 343 issues being raised. Of the more than 7,000 people detained in Britain under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the vast majority were released without charge and only a small fraction have ever been charged with terrorism related offences. Almost without exception these people could have been arrested under the ordinary criminal law. The lack of effective sanctions on states breaking their treaty obligations is the most substantial and insoluble deficiency in the treaty system. This is revealed most starkly in derogation situations where government interests in protecting internal institutions or preserving a particular regime make it impervious to adverse publicity, the key enforcement of international organs.44 The UK's derogation from the HRA has resulted in the infringement of a person's right to a fair trial through the terrorism act 2000. The government has been able to hold people for over two years without sanctions, it has set up courts where there is no need for the accused to be there and there is no reason for a judge to give reasoning about his decision. The Newton report, Liberty and Amnesty International as well as many others all have protested against these courts that violate Article 6 of the HRA and the holding of the accused terrorists. The presumption of innocence has also been wiped away since the introduction of these acts and only the ECHR can pressure the government to decide to act otherwise. ...read more.

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