42 Days

By Jenny Diski

I object strongly to the extension of the right to detain prisoners without charge to 42 days, but I object much more to the original 28 day detention law in 2005 and the way in which it was pressured through parliament.  More is worse, but it's not only a matter of how much time can be spent in detention: we need to keep in mind the loss of essential rights and liberties that has already happened and permits further erosion.  I hope that in objecting to the 42 day extension, we'll also remember that 28 days detention without charge is iniquitous in a country that has had a habeas corpus law for nine centuries.  In the eighteenth century the jurist William Blackstone explained habeas corpus: "The King is at all times entitled to have an account, why the liberty of any of his subjects is restrained, wherever that restraint may be inflicted."  The loss is a catastrophe for genuine democracy and human rights.