UK terrorism expert criticizes European court rulings on control orders

[JURIST] The UK government’s independent reviewer of terror laws on Thursday published a report saying that rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made it difficult to remove foreign terror suspects from Britain. Control orders, created by the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2005 (PTA) [text], are available to authorities when a terror suspect resists deportation for fear that he or she will be ill-treated in his or her home country. The ECHR refused to grant the Government’s request that a terror suspect be required to show that it is more likely than not that he would be subject to ill-treatment. The ruling lowered the suspect’s burden of proving that he would be faced with ill-treatment upon returning to his home country. The reviewer of the sixth annual report, Lord Carlile of Berriew, concluded that, despite political controversy and court decisions that challenged the system’s goals, the control order system functioned well in 2010:

[I]t is my view and advice that abandoning the control orders system now would have a damaging effect on national security. Of course, on their own control orders are not a failsafe or foolproof mechanism for full disruption of suspected terrorists. Further, because they are a resource-intensive tool for all involved in their management, self-evidently they cannot be used to manage the risk posed by all non-prosecutable suspected terrorists against whom there is robust intelligence.

Carlile also called for a formal system for briefing political leaders to inform the debate on a possible replacement for the control order system.

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