1. Raven

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    Oct 14, 2006
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    The NetherWorld

    Blair to push tough anti-terror law

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Raven, May 27, 2007.

    LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to push through a new anti-terrorism law before he steps down next month giving "war-time" powers to police to stop and question people, a newspaper reported on Sunday Blair, who is due to resign on June 27 after a decade in office, wrote in an article in The Sunday Times that his government planned to publish new anti-terrorism proposals "within the next few weeks".

    An interior ministry spokeswoman confirmed the government was looking at including a "stop and question" power in the new legislation. "We are considering a range of powers for the bill and 'stop and question' is one of them," she said.

    The "stop and question" power would enable police to interrogate people about who they are, where they have been and where they were going, The Sunday Times said. Police would not need to suspect a crime had taken place.

    If suspects failed to stop or refused to answer questions, they could be charged with a crime and fined, The Sunday Times said. Police already have the power to stop and search people but have no right to ask them their identity and movements.

    The Sunday Times said the powers already existed in Northern Ireland. Civil rights groups viewed the plan to extend them to the rest of Britain as an attack on civil liberties, it said.

    Such powers had only existed before in other parts of Britain in war time, it said.

    Interior minister John Reid is proposing other measures to combat Islamist militants, the report said. These would give police the power to take documents away for examination even if their value as evidence was not immediately obvious and the power to remove vehicles to examine them.

    Blair's government passed tough anti-terrorism measures after the September 2001 attacks on U.S. cities and again after four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network in July 2005.

    However, some of Blair's proposed measures -- such as a plan to hold terrorism suspects for up to 90 days without charge -- have been blocked by parliament or the courts.

    Britain's anti-terrorism strategy has faced criticism in the last few days after the disclosure that three men suspected of planning attacks on British or U.S. troops abroad had absconded.

    Authorities had attempted to keep tabs on the three men through "control orders".

    In his article, Blair said it was not the government's fault the three had absconded. Instead, he blamed parliament and the courts for quashing the tougher measures he had wanted.

    "We have chosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first. I happen to believe this is misguided and wrong," he wrote.

    Britons had decided that, except in very limited ways, the threat to public safety from extremism did not justify radical changes to the law, he said. "Their right to traditional civil liberties comes first. I believe this is a dangerous misjudgment," he added.

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