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In light of increasing government repression throughout the Western World, there is growing concern that public hostility could swiftly turn to violence. In anticipation of the people being provoked beyond endurance one increasingly hears the term Martial Law. Few have experience of what Martial Law is and how it would affect them and their families.
There are precedents such as the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922. The Act is often referred to simply as the Special Powers Act. It was an Act passed by the Westminster-sponsored Parliament of Northern Ireland shortly after the establishment of Northern Ireland. The Act’s notorious sweeping powers made it highly controversial. Unsurprisingly, it was viewed by the Irish Catholic and Republican communities as a tool of oppression.
The Act was eventually repealed by the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973. If the Special Powers Act, perhaps under another name is introduced to quell civil unrest in Britain or Europe the precedent will be applied. What does this mean to Britons and Europeans in a situation in Western Europe similar to that experienced during the collapse of the Soviet Union?
· Arrest without warrant.
· Imprison without charge or trial: deny recourse to habeas corpus or court of law.
· Enter and search homes without warrant; with force, day or night
· Declare a curfew. Prohibit meetings, demonstrations, assemblies (including fairs and markets) and processions).
· Permit punishment by flogging.
· Deny claim to a trial by jury.
· Arrest persons if desired to act as witnesses. Forcibly detain them and compel them, under penalties, even if answers incriminate them. Such a person is guilty of an offence if he refuses to be sworn or answer a question.
· Do any act involving interference with the rights of private property.
· Prevent access of relatives or legal advisers to a person imprisoned without trial.
· Prohibit the holders of an inquest after a person’s death.
· Arrest a person who ‘by word of mouth’ spreads ‘false reports or makes false statements’.
· Prohibit the circulation of any newspaper.
· Prohibit the possession of any film or gramophone record.
· Arrest a person who does anything ‘calculated to be prejudicial to the preservation of peace and not specifically provided for in the regulations.
· The British Special Powers Act 1922 – 1972 Northern Ireland which were not repealed until 1972. ~ Michael Walsh
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