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Anti terror laws show lessons of Northern Ireland have not been learnt


By Paul Donovan


Lawyer Louise Christian accused the government of failing to learn the lessons of Northern Ireland with its introduction of new anti terror laws.

Ms Christian, who represented a number of those detained in Guantanamo Bay,
predicted that "there will be a rise in miscarriages like the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four."

Addressing a House of Commons meeting the human rights lawyer drew further
parallels with Ireland predicting that the operation of the anti-terror laws will lead to the creation of an unbridged divide in the community. "People won't co-operate with the police as happened in Northern Ireland," said Ms Christian.

She also criticised the government's plans to extend the period that the police can detain people without charge under anti-terror laws from 14 days
to 3 months. "For the whole of the period of the Troubles with the IRA the
limit on detention was 7 days. The idea that you need three months to analyse evidence is a nonsense," said Ms Christian.

She suggested that the new measure marked a return to the oppressive approach of the Birmingham Six period when in their case they were beaten up until they said what the police wanted to hear.

Michael Mansfield QC mapped the history of anti-terror law during the conflict in Northern Ireland when after each atrocity new anti-terror measures were introduced. "This was done to give the public a false sense of security. None of these anti-terror statutes have made the slightest bit of difference. These measures have not prevented terror, helped the detention of terrorists or protected people," said Mr Mansfield.

The human rights lawyer claimed there were more than enough powers to deal
with terrorism under the ordinary criminal law and the new measures were
passed simply to give the public the impression that something was happening. "The question to ask the MPs is how any of these new measures
would have prevented the bombings of 7 July, said Mr Mansfield.

He recalled how the ricin trial earlier in the year when eight of the
suspects were cleared had been used as a reason to justify three month
detention of suspects by the police. "The suspects were detained for two
years in that case and now they have been put back in prison on the basis of what they were cleared of," said Mr Mansfield.

The mother of the Brazilian man shot dead by the Metropolitan Police in July has described her immense pain at the loss of her son.

Addressing the launch campaign 'Justice for Jean' Marie de Silva condemned a situation where innocent people could be shot dead on the streets of London.

"This law cannot continue when innocent people are being killed," said Marie de Silva."A young worker cannot be killed ever again. "With God's love and help and the union of people we can reverse this law and make sure than no one is killed again."

Mrs de Silva called for help in the quest for justice. "I don't want any mother to suffer in the way that I am suffering now," said Mrs de Silva.

At the meeting attended by more than 300 people solicitor for the family
Gareth Peirce condemned the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
Lord John Stevens for bringing back the shoot to kill policy from Northern

Mrs Peirce described how Sir John had boasted about introducing the shoot to kill policy in a Sunday newspaper article. "So the same policeman who went to investigate shoot to kill in Northern Ireland admits to covertly
introducing the policy here," said Mrs Peirce.

The former Birmingham Six lawyer declared that it was time to apoligise to
the family of dead man Jean Charles de Menezes. "We must apoligise for doing these things. The family are saying that it must not be allowed to happen to anyone else.It is this family who are making us wake up to the sort of country we are but should not be," said Mrs Peirce.

Mrs Peirce condemned the attempts of the government to introduce more anti-terror legislation. "There is more than enough legislation already, it is a case of whether the police use it properly," said Mrs Peirce.

Livio Zilli from Amnesty International called for an investigation into why
the Independent Police Complaints Commission were not allowed to begin their investigation for three days. "Any cover up must be investigated. The family and society as a whole need justice," said Mr Zila. "The attmpts to block the investigation and the reticence of the IPCC to tell the public and the family that they were not in charge of the investigation from the start is very serious. We will investigate whether the IPCC is truly independent."

Bianca Jagger accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of reintroducing the death
penalty by the back door. "Prime Minister Blair has brought back shoot to
kill by the back door without any Parliamentary debate. The death penalty
was abolished in this country and the rest of Europe some 20 years ago,"
said Ms Jagger. "Though we have threats it is vital we do not give up our
rights and freedoms."

Liberal Democrat MP Mathew Taylor condemned Parliament for its failure to
hold the government to account for the shoot to kill policy that led to the
death of Jean Charles de Menezes. "I am ashamed that Parliament and my colleagues in Parliament failed to hold the government to account. It is
vital that we believe in innocent until proven guilty. This is a policy that allows the state and those representing the state to execute people," said Mr Taylor. "There has been no debate on this policy, all we've had is
Charles Clarke saying there is no shoot to kill policy. The De Menzes family have started to make happen, namely holding the government to account, what Parliament has failed to do."

There were also contributions from other families who had had members shot by the police including Irene Stanley the wife of Harry who was shot in 1999.

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