sexta-feira, 4 de março de 2005

The Spectator: A despotic act

"It is unfortunate, though perhaps inevitable, that people who have lived only in conditions of liberty and democracy should have limited interest in the legal provisions that keep societies free. That much is clear from the public’s response to the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. The past week saw one of the gravest parliamentary debates of modern times, on a measure which would undermine an 800-year-old principle of English law: that no man should face imprisonment without trial. And yet to judge by the opinion polls, most citizens seem to care little about the issues involved. Inasmuch as they have followed the debate at all, it is simply to absorb the glib suggestions of the Prime Minister that the only ‘civil liberty’ which matters is personal protection from a terrorist bomb.(...)

Mercifully, it is unlikely that the average law-abiding citizen will fall foul of the provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. But that should not blind us to their potential. They are levers of despotism, no matter how worthy the intentions of those ministers who have conceived them. Coming from any government this Bill would be a disgrace. Coming from a government which has so often trumpeted its commitment to human rights, it is also, of course, the height of hypocrisy."

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