42 Day Cliffhanger - does Facebook have the answer?

Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
5pm 5 June 2008
For immediate release

Next Wednesday's Commons vote on the government's plans to allow terrorist suspect to be held for up to 42 days promises to be a cliffhanger. There is likely to be a substantial rebellion against the plans on the Labour backbenches, with a number of MPs apparently still to make up their minds.

Mark Lazarowicz is a key figure. He is MP for Edinburgh North and Leith and has a government job as Private Parliamentary Secretary to David Cairns, the Scotland Office Minister. But he voted against the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and he voted against Blair's plans for 90 day detention without charge in November 2005. As one of the signatories to the famous September 2006 letter calling for Blair to resign, he holds a paradoxical position as rebel and Brown loyalist. So how will he vote next Wednesday? As far as SACC can determine, Lazarowic's constituents still don't know what their MP will do. But denizens of social networking website Facebook may know the answer.

Mark Lazarowicz is a member of Facebook group "Not a Day longer." The group, which has over 5000 members, says it "opposes any extension to the 28 days that British police can hold someone in detention before charging them."

Lib Dem MSP asks Scottish Parliament to oppose 42 day detention

Hugh O'Donnell MSP (Lib Dem, Central Scotland) yesterday (4 June 2008) tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament opposing the UK Government's plans to introduce 42 day detention without charge. The motion says:

"That Parliament expresses it's concern over measures contained in the UK Government's new Counter-Terrorism Bill; agrees with the Law Society of Scotland that proposals which will allow terrorism offences committed in Scotland to be tried in any court in the United Kingdom will undermine the primacy of Scottish Courts and the office of the Lord Advocate; opposes plans to extend the pre-charge detention limit beyond 28 days; agrees with human rights groups such as Liberty, Amnesty International, JUSTICE and the Scottish-Islamic Foundation that such measures are unnecessary and erode the very civil liberties we wish to safeguard."

The raising of this issue in the Scottish Parliament will add to the difficulties facing Gordon Brown. And if that wasn't enough, Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights said today that the governments latest amendments to the bill - intended to win over Labour's backbench rebels - were negligible and that the move would still violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

The criminal law committee of the Law Society Of Scotland expressed concerns over the Goverments plans in April, saying that terror suspects should be treated in the same way as any other people suspected of crime.

SACC says "Drop it, Gordon"

SACC believes that the Counter Terrorism Bill is a political and human rights train crash waiting to happen. It's about much more than 42 days. The Bill builds on the excessively broad definition of terrorism already established by the 2000 Terrorism Act and adds new measures that widen the net of innocent people who may find themselves incriminated. We urge Gordon Brown to drop this ill-considered Bill and think again.

More information

What You can Do

  • Contact you MP. Ask her/him to vote against any extension of the present limit on "pre-charge detention." Tell her/him about you wider concerns about the Counter Terrorism Bill. You can contact your MP using www.writetothem.com
  • Sign the CAMPACC petition to the Prime Minister calling on him to abandon the Counter-Terrorism Bill
  • Contact your MSPs (you can contact regional list MSPs as well as your constituency MSP) and ask them to sign the motion "Counter-Terrorism Bill" tabled by Hugh O'Donnell on 4 June