Sunday, December 05, 2004

ID's: Chris Lightfoot Gets It

Chris Lightfoot runs a detailed critique of the ID Cards Bill, and pulls up exactly what I did on Tuesday. That is, the Bill's killer clauses that give the Government powers to force us to carry the cards (despite their denials), to force us to show them to use the NHS, public education and social security (despite their denials), and to discriminate between groups of citizens (despite their denials). A clause in Section 15 - the bit the government will spin as preventing the card's use to control access to public services - explicitly removes this protection from anyone forced to register under Section 6. This legislative landmine means that once, as planned, the card becomes compulsory, people without them will be banned from using public services. It's that simple. Another beauty in section 6 gives the government power to oblige "individuals of a description specified in the order" to register. This provides for the creation of a class of people who would be forced to carry ID cards when everyone else does not - or for the creation of a class of people barred from carrying them when everyone else must. Either way, for the first time we will have legislation designed to create second-class citizens.

Well, if they don't intend to use these powers, why are they so keen to legislate them?

Just to add to the chorus of joy, may I offer this report (in French) from Le Monde? According to the French Commission on Citizens, Justice and Policing, more cases of police brutality occur during ID card checks than any other procedure. This is perhaps not very surprising as ID checks are common, but that is small comfort to the chap described in the article who had his head cracked against a car. It also shouldn't be terribly surprising that some 60% of cases were inflicted on foreigners, and that many of the other 40% involved persons whose "appearance or name might cause one to think they were of foreign origin" (I quote). The commissioners concluded that:
"the legality of identity checks carried out "preventatively", whose multiplication has provoked more disturbances of public order than they prevent, should be brought into question". (my translation)
Well said.

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