British PM Backs Detention Law

By Arshad Sharif Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday backed the controversial Terrorism Bill which would allow the British law-enforcement agencies to detain terrorist suspects without a charge for up to 90 days. The Terrorism Bill, which proposes to increase the limit of detention without a charge from 14 to 90 days, was published in full by Home Secretary Charles Clarke within hours after getting support of the prime minister in the Commons amidst strong opposition. Formulated in the aftermath of July 7 London bombings, Mr Blair expects to get a majority support to pass the Bill by the year’s end despite opposition from civil right groups, political opponents and many in the Muslim community who believe it would be targeted against the Muslims. Giving support to the Bill before it was made public, Mr Blair said: I have to say that I, for the reasons the police have given, have found their request for this power absolutely compelling. Addressing parliamentarians at prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, Mr Blair said, What I have to do is to try to do my best to protect people in this country and to make sure that their safety and their civil liberty to life come first, and that is what I’m going to try to do. Earlier, Tory leader Michael Howard said he was yet to be persuaded over the 90-day proposal and called for a more fundamental examination of the criminal justice system. The prime minister’s official spokesman told a regular briefing at Westminster, If you have to arrest people at an earlier stage of investigation because of the possibility of suicide bombs and the devastation that causes, therefore you do need to give more time to the police to gather evidence. That is the crux of the argument. The Terrorism Bill also made glorifying or indirectly encouraging terrorism an offence carrying up to seven years’ imprisonment.