Hain: Anti-terrorism tactics must avoid Guantanamo

Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain has warned the government against increasing anti-terrorism laws at the expense of civil liberties.

Mr Hain’s comments come as the government considers plans to grant the police in Britain powers to stop and question people under new anti-terror legislation.

The move would see stringent police powers in Northern Ireland extended across the country, allowing officers to quiz individuals on their identity and their movements, without suspecting that a crime has or is about to take place.

However Mr Hain has warned of how proposals to increase anti-terror laws, including extending ‘stop and question’ powers, had to be balanced carefully in order to avoid exacerbating the problem and pointed to the example of controversial US Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba where more than 350 people remain held without charge or trial.

“Guantanamo Bay, which was an international abuse of human rights, acted as recruiting sergeant for dissidents and alienated Muslims and alienated many other people across the world,” said Mr Hain, speaking on BBC1’s Sunday AM programme.

Adding that the government needed to protect “civil liberties, jealously guarding them”, Mr Hain noted that the public needed to be protected yet a balance had to be found.

Possible measures, such as the ‘stop and question’ powers, needed to be carefully carried out to avoid a police state and ensure “that we protect people’s liberties in a way that they don’t feel it justifies an appeal to people to come in and support terrorism”.