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.