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Call on terrorist and gypsy rights

The human rights of terrorists, illegal immigrants and gypsies should all be given better protection in the UK, a report has said.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found 10 areas in the UK where public authorities "can improve human rights protections".

"Some groups which are socially marginalised or particularly vulnerable do not enjoy full protection of their rights," the report said.

The review criticised the Government's counter-terrorism powers, in particular the authority to hold suspected terrorists for up to 14 days without charge and the use of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpims) which replaced the controversial system of control orders.

The 14-day pre-charge detention was "considerably longer than the four days permitted for individuals charged with a criminal offence", the commission said.

This risks "breaching the right to security and liberty, as people who have not been charged with an offence should not be deprived of their liberty for an excessive length of time". It went on: "The commission believes the Tpim approach lacks important safeguards to protect human rights and may still fail to comply with the rights to liberty and security and the right to a fair trial."

The review also cited criticism by the United Nations of "Britain's use of fast-track detention for asylum applicants for administrative convenience rather than last resort, and the lack of adequate safeguards to guarantee fairness of procedure and quality decision-making".

"Immigrants may be detained for long periods without any realistic prospect of removal, breaching their right to liberty," it said.

The report also found that the rights of gypsies and travellers "were sometimes overlooked", with a shortage of suitable caravan sites as local authorities have failed to invest in site development. The report said: "The lack of sufficient sites means it is difficult for gypsies and travellers to practice their traditional way of life."

The commission added: "These conclusions are all the more pertinent given the changes the Government wishes to introduce to the Human Rights Act and its views about the need for changes to the European Court of Human Rights."


From Belfast Telegraph