A worrying new anti-terror law is sneaking through Parliament – Angela Patrick

This article analyses and critiques the new anti-terror laws the government is trying to rush through parliament. These laws will allow the authorities to prevent anyone suspected of terrorism or ‘terrorist-related activity’ from returning to Britain. It will also allow the authorities to seize their passports, and make them liable to exclusion orders that will act as a kind of ‘internal exile’, that could see them relocated up to 200 miles away from their friends and family. There is also, inevitably, increased powers for the authorities to demand details of their electronic communications.

The blog raises concerns over the lack of judicial oversight for these new powers. Those subject to these measures may not be able to mount a challenge as they unable to know the reasons for them. Furthermore, some of them can be carried out without proper review by judges or magistrates. A human rights board is intended to be part of the oversight process, but it is not clear how this will function or who will sit on it. The measures for effectively exiling suspected terrorists also leads to possible further radicalisation, as they remain embedded within their terrorist organisation, or at risk of torture by third countries.

The article contrasts this approach, with that of the more sensible Danes. The Danes see the return of suspected terrorists as an opportunity for their rehabilitation, and to gather further intelligence from them about their former organisation.

Finally, this piece of legislation amounts to nothing more than a further threat to precious British liberties, all in the name of safeguarding us from terrorism. Yet throughout the 1970s and ’80s, when Britain was effectively at war with the IRA and similar terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland, measures as extreme as this were not introduced and the existing anti-terrorism legislation was considered sufficient. Also, viewers of Star Trek will remember that series’ message that the authorities’ attempts to limit freedom in response to a perceived enemy threat is as dangerous as the threat itself. Star Trek was, of course, fictional, and much of the rhetoric surrounding this message contrived and unrealistically idealistic. But the point remains a good one, and bears repeating.

UK Human Rights Blog

9/11 attack man accused gets compensation

As the world’s press and public stand vigil in support of Charlie Hebdo and the families of the victims of Wednesday’s attack, we wake this morning to reports that our security services are under pressure and seeking new powers. The spectre of the Communications Data Bill is again evoked. These reports mirror renewed commitments yesterday to new counter-terrorism measures for the EU and in France.

This blog has already covered the reaction to the shootings in Paris in some detail.   The spectrum of reaction has been about both defiance and fear. The need for effective counter-terrorism measures to protect us all, yet which recognise and preserve our commitment to the protection of fundamental rights is given a human face as people take to the streets to affirm a commitment to protect the right of us all to speak our mind, to ridicule and to lampoon, to offend and…

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