Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (83, 84)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

61 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position on the efforts of the Nasser family to recover their family land held for generations and annexed by the Israeli authorities; the actions and advice his Department has offered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4183/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

As I have stated in the House, the Government has consistently taken the view that the transfer of its own population into occupied territory by an occupying power is a flagrant breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements established in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Israeli authorities are illegal and must be dismantled. Land seizures by the occupation forces for the purposes of settlement are null and void in international law. Both Ireland and the European Union have made these views known to the Israeli Government on numerous occasions.

The Nasser case referred to by the Deputy appears to be a particularly disturbing example of this policy in action. The case is currently the subject of an action before the Supreme Court of Israel and I understand that the next hearing is due to take place in March. My Department has not been approached for action or advice on the case. Our diplomatic missions in Israel and the Palestinian territories are following developments and we will in the first instance await the outcome of the court case.

Gerard Murphy

Question:

62 Mr. Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the Amnesty International report on the perversion of justice in the United Kingdom with reference to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4305/04]

View answer

My officials have noted the contents of the Amnesty International report entitled "United Kingdom, Justice perverted under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001".

The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which became law in the United Kingdom in December 2001, contains a wide range of measures which the British Government considered necessary in the light of terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. The measures include the power to seize assets, additional powers to detain under the Immigration Act and to search and fingerprint terrorist suspects.

The Amnesty International report raises a number of concerns about the Act and its operation. Under Part 4 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, the Secretary of State can certify a non-UK national as a "suspected international terrorist" if he or she "reasonably (a) believes that the person's presence in the United Kingdom is a risk to national security, and (b) suspects that the person is a terrorist." The basis for these determinations may include secret information that is never revealed to the person concerned or his or her lawyer of choice. In addition, under the powers granted to the Executive in Part 4 of the Act, it can order the detention without charge or trial of foreign nationals.

I am satisfied, however, that Irish people living in Britain will not in practice be affected by the provisions in respect of "international terrorists" because they are not considered foreign nationals under the law.

In general, it is clear that a number of measures in the Act will affect all persons living in the United Kingdom. I am satisfied, however, that none of the measures will have a greater effect on Irish persons living in the United Kingdom than on British nationals or other UK residents.

Finally, it should be noted that the detention provisions of the Act are subject to a number of safeguards. They are subject to annual renewal by parliament, their operation is to be examined by a reviewer, and they will, in any event, cease to have effect in November 2006.