UK terror detention limit is longest of any democracy

Charge or ReleaseBritain’s existing 28-day limit on holding terror suspects without charge is already far longer than that for any comparable democracy, according to a study to be published tomorrow.

The survey, by the human rights organisation Liberty, was carried out by lawyers and academics in 15 countries. It shows that the four-week maximum in Britain outstrips limits in countries that have also suffered al-Qaida inspired terrorist attacks in recent years, including the United States, Spain and Turkey. Although police in these countries also face increasingly complex terror plots with growing international dimensions, their maximum periods for pre-charge detention remain as short as 48 hours in the US, five days in Spain and seven and a half days in Turkey.

The findings are released as MPs await the publication of a new counter-terrorism bill that will propose extending detention without charge beyond 28 days. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said any extension of pre-charge detention would put Britain even further out of line with comparable democracies around the world.

Guardian, 12 November 2007