[Sinn Fein]

13 November 2001

British fail to learn the lessons of the failure of internment without trial

Sinn Fein Human Rights Spokesperson, Newry & Armagh MLA Pat McNamee has said that the emergency anti-terrorist legislation published today by the British Home Secretary David Blunkett fails to learn the lessons of the failure of internment without trial in the Six Counties.

Mr McNamee said:

"The determination of the British government to opt out of international human rights standards by declaring a state of emergency and introducing powers of arrest without trial is further indication of their failure to understand the principles of promoting human rights. The implications for us, in the Six Counties, are very serious.

"This is being introduced on the basis that it is to deal with 'foreign nationals' potentially involved in the current international situation. But, we know that in the past that once such legislation is introduced that it can and will be abused by state agencies against whoever they wish.

"Internment without trial is a failed policy. It's widespread abuse by the British state, the British Army and the RUC for political purposes has caused untold damage and hurt to the nationalist community and created innumerable miscarriages of justice. Many of those responsible for such injustice remain within the NIO, the British Army and the renamed RUC.

"The British Home Secretary is preparing to write a blank cheque for the undermining of people's fundamental human rights. You cannot possible argue that to defend human rights they must be withheld.

"The derogation order to suspend the operation of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prevents the purposed indefinite detention without trial will be confirmed next week. It will bring back many frightening memories for those of us who suffered directly at the hands of human rights abusers within the British Army, UDR/RIR and RUC/PSNI as a consequence of internment without trial."

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