How can known members of Al-Qaeda be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom under the Human Rights Act?

What are the main measures which the UK Government will have to counter terrorists found to be living in the United Kingdom?

Two of the main measures which the UK Government has to counter terrorists found to be living in the United Kingdom are as follows:

  1. Deportation

  2. Control Orders

Deportation for Individuals involved in Terrorism

Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 the UK Government is provided with powers to deport individuals out of the UK back to their home country when there is clear evidence that they pose a serious threat to the National Security of the United Kingdom.

Control Orders under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005

Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 the Secretary of State has the power to make a non-derogating control order against an individual who he has reasonable grounds for suspecting is involved in terrorism-related activity and where he considers it necessary for the protection of the public.

These measures can be applied to any individual, irrespective of nationality and whatever the nature of the terrorist activity.

Are there any grounds which an individual can plead to prevent deportation?

The Human Rights Act 1998 is the piece of legislation which gives provision for the Human Rights guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into the laws of the UK.

One of the rights guaranteed by the ECHR is that prescribed by Article 3 – prohibiting torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. This is an absolute right meaning there are no exceptions or limitations to the right.

It therefore follows that an individual who is to be deported from the UK cannot be deported if it is back to a country where such practices still operate and it is likely that the individual will be subject to these practices.

Is this something which is likely to come into play?

In a very recent case two known members of Al-Qaeda were found to pose a serious threat to the National Security of the UK following their involvement of proposes bombings in Manchester. The two individuals were among suspects which were arrested in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire in 2009 following an extensive operation led by MI5.

They were to be deported from the UK back to Pakistan but were able to successfully argue their rights under the Human Rights Act as there was the potential that they could be tortured on their return.

If they cannot be deported what is the alternative?

Due to the two men being unable to be deported due to the Human Rights Act they will instead be placed under control orders by the Secretary of State.

Is this a desirable position?

This ruling has come in for much criticism as it is felt that the Human Rights of the nation are being put in danger to protect the Human Rights of two known terrorist suspects.

The police have stated that they feel deep unease at a situation letting two individuals who pose a threat to the National Security of the UK remain in the country.

Furthermore the two individuals being placed under control orders will be done at a significant cost to the UK tax payer.

Is there any possibility of changing the laws in the UK regarding Human Rights?

Under the current legal position in the UK the Human Rights Act gives power to the European Convention on Human Rights and so if a specific right is guaranteed by that convention it must be observed under the laws of England and Wales.

However, there are no proposals under the current coalition government to bring in a United Kingdom Bill of Rights which would replace the current Human Rights Act.

What would the position then be in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights?

If the UK were to draft a Bill of Human Rights this would be pure British legislation and would be given supremacy over the European Legislation.

Would a UK Bill of Rights change the position seen in this case?

Currently it may be difficult to see how a UK Bill of Rights would change the position in this case as it would be extremely difficult not to allow torture or inhuman and degrading treatment under the Bill of Rights. If this were outlawed under the UK Bill of Rights as would be the desirable position it may be difficult to see the UK Government being willing to deport individuals back to a country where it is a possibility that they may be tortured.