Terror law reviewers seeking consultation [updated]

19 August 2010 by

The new government is currently undertaking a review of anti-terrorism legislation, and Liberty, the human rights organisation, have been asked to contribute.

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.

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3 comments


  1. Hi…I’ve been following this issue for a number of years, and over the time have written a play about it. It’s being put on with the Factory theatre company at the Southwark Playhouse this September – accompanied by free post-show discussions on liberty and legislation featuring guest speakers including Amnesty, Huamn Rights Watch, Justice, Mark Barrett and Henry Porter.

    Check out http://www.factorytheatre.co.uk or http://www.twitter.com/_Factory for more info.

    Steven Bloomer

  2. James Moore says:

    There are also anti terror laws embedded into the nationality legislation specifically targeted towards dual british citizens as well as those who have the right of abode through their descent from a mother or father who is british. Phases like removal for the public good are too encompassing for abuse of powers and certain regulations have also been instituted to force backdoor methods of identification control even when the primary legislations say otherwise.

    It would be good to see things like regulation 3145 from 2006 repealed as well as sections in the 2002 immigration act that directly deprive people of their rights on the basis of the secretary of state may think they may not be good as well as the ability to revoke their rights in deference to their human and liberty rights.

  3. P Rogers says:

    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.”

    The religious bit is Amnesty’s real concern, it has been captured by religious groups and will do nothing to potect others from the implications of the espousal of religious ideas.

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