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A and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department 2004 | Public Law

A v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004]

A and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56 is a landmark case decided by the House of Lords in 2004. The case involved a group of foreign nationals who had been detained indefinitely in HM Prison Belmarsh under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, which allowed for the detention of non-UK nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism.

The individuals argued that their detention was a violation of their right to liberty and security under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They also argued that the use of the 2001 Act to detain them was discriminatory, as it only applied to non-UK nationals.

The House of Lords held that the 2001 Act was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The court found that the indefinite detention of individuals without charge or trial was disproportionate and arbitrary, and that there was no evidence to suggest that the individuals posed a specific threat to national security.

The court also held that the use of the 2001 Act to detain only non-UK nationals was discriminatory and violated Article 14 of the Convention, which prohibits discrimination on grounds such as race, nationality, or religion.

The decision of this case was significant in several ways. It established that the use of detention without charge or trial in the context of counter-terrorism efforts must be based on individualised suspicion and must be proportionate to the threat posed by the individual. The case also highlighted the importance of non-discrimination in the application of counter-terrorism measures, and the need to ensure that such measures do not disproportionately affect individuals on the basis of their nationality or other personal characteristics.

This case was eventually appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in A and Others v United Kingdom 2009, which was decided in favour of the detainees. It also led to the repeal of the 2001 Act and the introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which introduced a system of control orders allowing for the monitoring and restriction of the activities of suspected terrorists, and which was then later repealed by the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011.

You can learn more about this topic with our Constitutional Law and Public Law notes.

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