New UK anti-terror law passed

After an unprecedented stand-off between its two houses, Britain's parliament has finally passed Prime Minister Tony Blair's controversial anti-terrorism bill into law.

    The House of Lords approved the bill after 30 hours of debate

    On Friday, peers in the unelected House of Lords, having rejected the bill throughout this week, acquiesced after Blair promised there would be an opportunity to amend the legislation fundamentally next year.


    The opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders in the House of Lords said they were satisfied with moves by the government to meet their concerns over the legislation.    


    His opponents had demanded that the law, which allows for tough measures up to and including house arrest for suspected terrorists, to lapse automatically.


    Blair's leader in the upper chamber, Lord Falconer, said the parliamentary sitting, which began on Thursday morning had been the longest on record - at more than 30 hours.


    Release on bail


    Meanwhile, Britain on Friday ordered the release on bail of all foreign terrorism suspects held without trial under discredited emergency legislation.


    The suspects were granted bail
    but are issued electronic tags

    The move came as parliament finally passed the new anti-terrorism laws to replace the existing powers under which the men had been held.


    The order affects 17 foreign Muslim men who were originally held at Britain's top security jails under the legislation.


    Of those, 10 remained behind bars before Thursday. The others had either been released, freed subject to strict conditions, or had chosen to leave Britain.


    Lawyers say some of those remaining in custody have been transferred to a high security mental hospital after being driven mad by their detention.


    Rushed law


    The emergency Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was rushed through parliament three months after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.


    It allowed police to detain foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism indefinitely without charge or trial.


    The law does not apply to British nationals. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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