It's great to see that Newham Monitoring Project (NMP), an organisation I have supported for twenty years now, organised a protest outside Parliament this morning to coincide with today's parliamentary vote renewing anti-terrorism 'control order' powers. Unfortunately I couldn't make it but NMP activists were joined by ex-control order detainee Cerie Bullivant [pictured holding the letter T of 'Trial']. When his control order was quashed in March 2008, the High Court judge said there were no reasonable grounds to suspect he was involved in terrorism.
I'm also pleased to see that NMP is willing to work alongside Cageprisoners on an issue of shared concern, especially after the campaign of abuse and smears that its director Moazzam Begg has faced over the last month.
Control orders made by the Home Secretary to restrict an individual's liberty for the purpose of "protecting members of the public from a risk of terrorism" have placed a number of people under effective house-arrest for years on end, based on secret evidence that neither they nor their legal representatives are allowed to see. One man I know personally who has a control order imposed against him has never faced a proper trial or been charged with an offence. In a comment for the press, a spokeswoman for NMP said:
There is a letter condemning the control order regime in the Guardian today too - a number of its signatories are old friends and comrades, including Estelle from NMP and two of the organisation's former workers who are now in the legal profession. You can find the letter online here.
"We have seen the devastating impact of control orders on people's lives at a community level. The use of control orders by the British Government is shameful and represents a huge erosion of civil liberties. It is simply unjust to punish people based on secret evidence and without allowing them to defend themselves against allegations."