Update: The full Liberty response, ‘From War to Law’ can be downloaded here.
The response is predictable, which is unsurprising given how much time and effort the organisation has put into speaking out against New Labour’s more controversial anti-terror policies. Control orders, 28 day detention without charge, the use of wide stop and search powers (currently suspended anyway) and surveillance powers are all mentioned.
More interesting are the organisation’s comments on proposals to ban non-violent groups promoting hatred. This would, say Liberty, be a step too far and would risk “including innumerable organisations, potentially including political and religious bodies.”
This concern arises from the Conservative Party’s pre-election pledge to ban any organisations “advocate hate or the violent overthrow of our society, such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and close down organisations which attempt to fund terrorism from the UK”. Hizb-ut-Tahrir, or the ‘Liberation Party’, is an international pan-Islamic political organization which holds controversial views on democracy and muslim integration into British society.
As yet, the group has not been banned in the UK, and in fact the Tory manifesto pledge did not make it into the full Coalition agreement. In any case, according to the Daily Telegraph, the prevailing wisdom in Westminster may be that non-violent groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir may not be feeders for violent groups.
It will be interesting to see whether the government listens to its many consultees on reform. If it does choose to further restrict groups which ‘support’ terrorism or its funding, this may lead to freedom of expression issues. As I said in a recent post on the topic, modern terrorist organisations are clandestine and diffuse, and preventing support can therefore fairly require wide powers. However, with harsh penalties available for those convicted of such offences, authorities must tread very carefully when enforcing such laws, for risk of finding themselves on the wrong end of a court judgment and in breach of human rights law.
- Previous posts on terrorism
- End of the age of terrorism for human rights campaigners
- Control orders quashed, compensation claims may follow
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