Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Issues of civil rights after London attacks

Alex Figueiredo, cousin to Jean Charles de Menezes.

Cherie Blair, wife of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a QC has urged the government not to overreact with new anti-terror laws. Speaking in Malaysia as a human rights lawyer, she said: "Nothing I say here could possibly be construed as making light of those horrible acts of violence or of the responsibility imposed on the UK and other governments to keep the public safe, or of the difficult and dangerous task performed by the police and intelligence services.” But she said, an overly authoritarian reaction which would "cheapen our right to call ourselves a civilized nation."
Meanwhile, in England today, Gareth Peirce, another human rights solicitor spoke of her and the family’s concerns following the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes on Friday last week. She said there was “a rush to judgment” by those in high places following the incident and before an inquiry had taken place. She spoke too of “astonishment” of the use of the term ‘shoot to kill’ policy as though it were a “term of law”. She hoped the inquiry would be quick and it would be transparent. Alex Figueiredo, cousin to Jean Charles de Menezes, said in broken English, “I want to say that people have to open their minds and see that the Blair [government] has been doing something wrong for a long time, and they kill a lot of people far from here. Now people here start to die. If no-one do anything, it go too far. You have to stop it”. The BBC cut away from the live press conference details of which surfaced on Channel 4 News later. Another cousin told assembled media that several details released after the shooting were incorrect. Early reports from the police had suggested Jean Charles de Menezes was wearing a ‘bulky coat’ when in fact he had been wearing a jean jacket. Vivien Figueiredo, another young cousin, told reporters that police had told her that de Menezes had not ‘jumped the barrier’ as earlier claimed, but used his travel card as any normal passenger. She also said reports that Jean Charles de Menezes was an illegal immigrant were also untrue, something which Jack Straw had substantiated shortly after press reports claiming his visa had expired.
[15:37 GMT 27/07/2005]

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