The ConDemNation coalition is comprised of numerous contradictions, any of which could ultimately become its undoing. But this isn’t a blog post about the public finances or making up constitutional reforms on the fly, this is about the Freedom Bill, or the Great Repeal Bill, whichever it turns out to be. The government has made it perfectly clear that rolling back the authoritarian abuses of the New Labour years would be one of its priorities, yet two problems have already arisen – one in asylum and immigration, the other with control orders.
Children of asylum seekers continue to be held at the Dungavel detention centre despite a coalition promise to end the practice.
A Pakistani woman, Sehar Shebaz, and her eight-month-old daughter Wanya were detained after reporting to officials in Glasgow on Monday.
A spokesman for the immigration minister Damian Green said the current system must stay in place for now.
He said the Home Office had to consult on a replacement.
I can’t help but wonder whether, because this was a Liberal Democrat policy, there was no plan devised on how to prevent children of ‘failed’ asylum seekers being incarcerated. After all the likelihood was they wouldn’t be in government, yet here we are. I don’t understand to this day why ‘failed’ asylum seekers (and Blair jury rigged the system early last decade to make sure there were a lot more of them) should be incarcerated – I really don’t – and simply not locking any of them up would be the most humane solution. After all ‘failed’ asylum seekers haven’t been convicted of a crime. But seeing as that’s hardly likely to happen under a Tory-led government, we’ll have to wait and see on the replacement Green comes up with.
Pakistanis Abid Naseer and Ahmed Faraz Khan, both 23, who were detained by police as part of Operation Pathway in the north-west of England in April last year, took their cases to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) in London. The commission today upheld their appeals.
However, Channel 4 News has learned that both men will now be subject to control orders, restrictions signed by the home secretary for the purpose of “protecting members of the public from a risk of terrorism”.
The Liberal Democrats’ Freedom Bill explicitly repeals the inhuman practice of control orders, with the logical assumption that our courts can handle the challenges of modern terrorism and the presumption that the rule of law is paramount. As the Lib Dems’ website puts it:
We should put our trust in them [courts & criminal justice system] and not rely on something as unfair as labelling people terrorists and subjecting them to a range of draconian punishments without ever charging them or trying them.
And that’s the point here. Where’s the evidence? Where’s the fair trial to prove their guilt? How can we live with a system which declares someone a terrorist in secret, and without the right of reply, and then confines them to house arrest? It may very well be true that both men are indeed terrorists, but I’d much rather live in a society that tried them on the same terms as everyone else; to suggest Islamic terror suspects are somehow different is palpably absurd after all. It’s all well and good that the new government has changed policy on ID cards and other, perhaps easier civil liberties issues to tackle, but it’s already time to put its money where its mouth is on others.