25 Sing. L. Rev. 24 (2007)
Preventive Detention as a Counter-Terrorism Strategy: They Have Stopped Using It and So Should We

handle is hein.journals/singlrev25 and id is 29 raw text is: Singapore Law Review
(2007) 25 Sing.L.Rev. 24-34
PREVENTIVE DETENTION AS A COUNTER-TERRORISM
STRATEGY: THEY HAVE STOPPED USING IT
AND SO SHOULD WE
YANG ZILIANG*
The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge
known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgement of his peers, is in the
highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or
Communist.1
I. INTRODUCTION
These words spoken by a great leader more than 50 years ago apparently have
faded in time, as can be seen in the aftermath of the well-coordinated terrorist
attacks in the United States, when the United Kingdom's (UK) Parliament
hurriedly passed2 the Anti- Terrorism, Crime andSecurityAct20013 (A. TCS.A.),
recognised by Lord Hoffmann as a real threat to the life of the nation.4 The
A. TC.S.A. allowed for the Home Secretary to detain an alien suspected of being
a terrorist indefinitely without trial, if there was a danger he would be tortured
in his own country if deported.5 Although the House of Lords declared Part 4
Fourth year LL.B. undergraduate at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.
This essay was awarded the fourth prize at the Singapore Law Review Writing Competition
2007.
Words of Mr (later Sir) Winston S. Churchill in relation to the power to intern 'enemy
aliens' during the Second World War, quoted in U.K., Joint Committee on Human Rights,
Continuance in force of Sections 21 to 23 of the Anti- Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001,
H.C. 462, H.L. 59 (Fifth Report of Session 2002-2003) (London: The Stationery Office
Ltd., 2003) at para. 7.
2 U.K., Select Committee on Home Affairs, The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill,
H.C. 351 (First Report of Session 2001-02) (London: The Stationery Office Ltd., 2001)
at para. 3.
3 (U.K.), 2001, c. 24.
4 A 6- others v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2005] 2 A.C. 68 at para. 97
(Belmarsh).
5 Supra note 3, s. 23. A decision of the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg Court)
in Chahal v. United Kingdom, [1996] 23 E.H.R.R. 413 (Chahal) rendered extradition of
a person to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that he will suffer
torture or inhumane treatment, a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human
Rights. Under the Human Rights Act 1998 (U.K.), 1998, c. 42 (H.R.A.), UK courts are
bound by decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, hence deportation of an alien

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