Since Shami Chakrabati took over as Liberty’s director in September 2003, the human rights organisation has lived through one of the most challenging periods of its existence. With the crackdown on terrorism and continued concerns over the Government’s immigration policy, it has had to stand as a forthright campaigner on Government policy, both in the courts and in front of the media.
The outcome – thanks largely to Chakrabati’s efforts – has been awe-inspiring. Its latest success has been the Roma case, in which the Law Lords ruled that the Government acted unlawfully in its attempts to prevent Romany Czechs from entering the UK. At its early stages the case was handled by Chakrabati herself.
Liberty has also maintained a healthy watching brief in the courts on the Home Office’s fast-track system for handling asylum seekers’ applications to remain in the UK, and also made highly publicised challenges to the Government’s detention in UK prisons of suspected terrorists without charge or trial.