Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Judges face human rights shake-up

The significant passage from Blair's speech reported here is set out below:-

"And on law and order, Mr Blair again emphasised his 'respect' agenda, saying plans will be published by the end of the year to 'radically extend summary powers to police and local authorities to take on the wrongdoers'. The detail of this was not immediately available."

"Summary powers" for those not tuned in to the jargon of our burgeoning police state, mean the ability of police and local authorities to punish "offenders" without recourse to the courts. In other words, law-enforcers will be judge and jury in certain cases.

Not only does Blair subscribe to the Sun King's view that "L'Etat, c'est moi", but he also shares Judge Dredd's creed - "I am the law". Before you complain that the Judge Dredd reference is an overstatement, please remember the case of Jean Charles de Menezes. He was summarily executed on the merest suspicion of being a terrorist.

More significant was the passage the Grauniad did NOT report here, namely the PM's observations about fighting 21st Century crime with 19th Century methods and about the "system" being designed primarily to ensure the innocent were not convicted. In other words, he is preparing us for a further attack on such "outdated" concepts as the presumption of innocence. It is hard to imagine what more he can do without making serfs of us all.

Press and public seem unable to grasp that, without independent verification of guilt by courts beyond political control, anyone who annoys the authorities will be liable to arbitrary punishment. Of course that's not what they say, but it is what such proposals mean. A press which cannot look behind political rhetoric is useless. Where is the challenge, from Right or Left?

To add to the gloom, Charles Clarke signalled there will be no retreat on ID Cards. So the ID card-linked database which will make the personal information of all citizens available to Judge Dredd will go ahead, despite all public misgivings.

Our free society is collapsing before our eyes. Where is the Opposition?

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports |
Blair says reform must go further

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