Monday, April 26, 2004

LONDON — A national survey released yesterday showed that Britons overwhelmingly support indefinite detention for people accused of terrorism-related offenses.

The British Broadcasting Corp. survey found that it made almost no difference whether the suspects were British citizens or foreigners. Support for indefinite detentions stood at 62 percent and 63 percent respectively.

The results, which reflect public alarm after a series of high-profile terrorism-related arrests and the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, have aroused consternation from civil rights activists.

The survey showed that 58 percent supported indefinite detention even for people accused merely of “associating with terrorist suspects.” Only 34 percent said they were opposed.

Britain abolished the death penalty decades ago. That 59 percent in the survey advocated the death penalty for terrorist killers is less surprising, given that majority public opinion never swung in favor of abolition.

The survey also showed wide-scale support for enhanced “stop and search” powers.

More dramatically, those surveyed said by 66 percent to 29 percent that all would-be immigrants or asylum seekers should be detained until they could be “assessed as potential terrorist threats.”

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