The assault on liberty could be worse than it is in the United Kingdom. We are nothing like Zimbabwe, say – or Jersey.
Jersey? Yes. And I don’t mean the partly imaginary lawless land of the Sopranos and Frank Sinatra. The supposedly sleepy tax-haven and holiday resort a few miles off the Normandy coast, the oldest possession of the English Crown still in hand*, has entirely astonishingly, and almost secretly, converted itself a police state in the last fortnight:
The report in the Jersey Evening Telegraph is so concise it can only be quoted in full:
The Home Affairs Minister has sent shock waves through the legal profession by authorising the indefinite detention of suspects without charge.
On 5 June, Senator Wendy Kinnard amended the criminal code that had limited pre-charge detention to 36 hours.
She did so under delegated powers enjoyed by the minister under the terms of the Police Procedures and Criminal Evidence (Jersey) Law.
However, that same law states that before such changes to codes are made, the minister is required to publish a draft of the changes and consult interested parties. She did neither of these things – a failure that has left the Island’s criminal lawyers stunned.
The new code came into force on Thursday, but no statement was released to either the media or the legal profession.
Why? What crisis of state is afflicting the Channel Islands?
Suspicious British readers may note that Jersey ministers are accustomed to do what they are told by the UK government. The facts that this peremptory administrative action shortly preceded the House of Commons debate on police detention powers, and that the resistance to HMG’s policies had had some effect by pointing out there are other jurisdictions, where the gutters do not run with human blood, in which long detention without charge is unknown, may be entirely unrelated.
* Pedant’s corner: the dukes of Normandy held the Channel Islands for more than a century before they took possession of the English Crown.