Yesterday, New Labour - with 36 Labour MPs dissenting - voted in the House of Commons to extend pre-charge internment under the Prevention of Terrorism Act from four to six weeks.
On The Guardian’s Web Comments the private citizen, Mr Carlos Belafonte, wrote:
If I was dragged from my car or home in the dark hours of the morning, interrogated by the security services for 6 weeks to no avail and then dumped onto the steps of a police station with no more than an 'off you go' I would imagine that my family, work and social life would be in tatters, not to mention that stigma that I would inevitably carry around my neck for some time.
Such internment – six weeks of isolation and interrogation – amounts to psychological torture, and the likelihood of the victim making deluded (and false) confessions.
Nobody can know what will make him or her liable to this treatment: looking at a site on the internet, talking to somebody under suspicion, denunciation by a spiteful neighbour or colleague – or just simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In every case there is no hard evidence against the victim, because if there were he or she would be charged with an offence and brought before a court.
This nightmare for the individual (even if it’s only for two, three or four weeks) happens to innocent people, and in Britain’s all-pervasive surveillance society (CCTV, bugging, intercepting) those falling under suspicion – nearly all of them Muslims – is set to grow.