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9/11 reminder of need to return to core values of liberal democracy

September 10, 2008 6:14 PM

On the eve of the 7th anniversary of the terrible terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP is calling for the future US President and Congress to resume co-leadership of international efforts to protect freedoms and civil liberties with an EU which needs to practice what it preaches on fundamental rights.

"Massive terrorist attacks ended the comfortable belief that liberal democracy was safe from attack after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However the 'war on terror' has been invoked to chip away painfully acquired fundamental freedoms such as habeas corpus, freedom of expression, privacy and non-discrimination. This has squandered the west's most precious legal, ethical and moral assets."

"Mass surveillance, secret prisons, rendition flights, torture and profiling based on religion and ethnicity are only the most notorious examples of this trend. Many campaigners have challenged these policies and stood up for a more balanced approach to tackling terrorism."

"Early US leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin wisely warned that if liberty was traded for security, both would be lost. A new American leadership from November should not only regain respect for this truth, but remind European governments of it too."

"The EU is at a turning-point. As it decides the direction of a new 5-year programme in justice and security with new surveillance measures proliferating, EU leaders need to remember that security cannot exist without liberty."