London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Political experts questioned the effectiveness of a number of measures recently announced by the British government during a conference held at a leading think tank in the British capital on Wednesday.
Elizabeth Wilmhurst, head of the international law program at Chatham House, which houses the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and a former senior officer at the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith”s office who resigned in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 said, "The right for protection from torture was absolute".
Entitled "Justice and Terrorism in the Euro-Mediterranean Region", the conference, held to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of the start of the Barcelona Process to increase Euro-Med cooperation. Participants agreed the collaboration between countries in the region was still largely symbolic, as the two sides had not yet agreed on a common definition of terrorism, despite signing a number of agreements on the subject.
For his part, the British Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, announced last week, at the conclusion of a series of meetings between the interior and justice ministers of European Union member states, he intended to include discussions on internal affairs and justice to the agenda of the Euro-Med meeting expected to take place this November in Barcelona.
Wilmhurtst, expressed reservations on the official British government position, which states that European laws no longer offer a balance between respecting civil liberties and protection and security for the general public, thereby calling for a re-examination of these regulations to correspond to new political realities.
The expert, who revealed in her resignation Lord Goldsmith had twice changed his opinion on the legality of the war, said "Some human rights can be debated for a number of reasons, such as the right to freedom of expression, or the right of association, while others are indisputable, such as the right to be protected from torture and ill-treatment. She added, "This right cannot be suspended under any circumstance and no one should be deported to a country where he could be subjected to torture."
Meanwhile, John Denham, MP for Southampton and Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee criticized the new security measures as "limited in their scope and hasty".
The conference discussed three main topics, "the security of civilians and democracy, the role of justice and the rule of law in the fight against terrorism, and democracy and democracy and security measures". Participants also debated the history of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, which was divided into three periods: the first from 1976 until the attacks of September 11, 2001, the second ending with the Madrid bombing in March 2004 after which the third and ongoing period starts.