08 Mar 2007
The latest figures released by the Home Office regarding arrests, charges and convictions under terrorism legislation raise serious issues of concern and indeed substantiate fears that the legislation is being used indiscriminately and disproportionately.
`Whilst we fully support law enforcement agencies in their difficult task to ensure public safety, these figures suggest that far too many arrests are carried out without due regard for the need for evidence to sustain the validity of arrests or the laying of formal charges. Such behaviour is bound to cause substantial cracks in public confidence which is critical to the work of the police and other related agencies’, said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, MCB Secretary General.
If the cause of so many unnecessary arrests lies in the nature of the legislation, then we ask that it be reviewed so that arrests are only made for good reason.
If arrests are carried out on the basis of intelligence, as is contended, then these statistics demand a public investigation into the glaring shortcomings in the veracity of our intelligence services.
It is a shocking revelation that evidence to justify the laying of charges was found satisfactory in a very small proportion of those arrested and only 3 percent of those were found guilty.
Given the media circus that attracts arrests carried out under terrorism legislation it is now manifestly obvious that this legislation has blighted the lives of more than a thousand innocent individuals and their families. This must not be allowed to continue. Where innocent people are arrested in the course of an investigation, at the very least their innocence should be publicly acknowledged in proportion to the publicity attracted by their arrest. This process will assist in improving the image of the police with the communities.
We urge the government to ensure that political pressure and the much repeated mantra of a `war on terror’ not drive our law enforcement agencies into overzealous conduct.
`We are appalled that some Muslims are involved in terror plots. In this context the MCB has acknowledged that within the Muslim community in the United Kingdom there is a problem. The MCB reiterates that a Muslim cannot and must not engage in an act of violence that kills or has the potential to kill innocent people. Just as the Muslim community has the duty to articulate its revulsion for acts of terror, and against the perpetrators of such acts, the government has a responsibility to address the causes for such acts. The government can only discharge that responsibility if it holds a public inquiry to find the true reasons for such acts, as the MCB has repeatedly stated. We repeat that call.’ said Dr Abdul Bari.[ENDS]