Terrorism Reviewer: Control Order successor “broadly acceptable”

14 March 2013 by

352676_old_ball_and_chain_series_3David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of terrorism legislation, has released his first report into the operation of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures, introduced in 2011 with the aim of protecting the public from persons believed to have engaged in terrorism, but who can neither be prosecuted nor deported. 

TPIM subjects in 2012 were subject to restrictions including overnight residence at a specified address, GPS tagging, reporting requirements and restrictions on travel, movement, association, communication, finances, work and study. Like their predecessor, control orders, TPIMs have been highly controversial and, as Anderson points out, “vigorously attacked – from opposite directions – by civil libertarians and by the more security-minded.” However, his conclusion is that they are broadly acceptable: 

Nobody could feel entirely comfortable about it, or wish it to survive for any longer than necessary. I nonetheless conclude that it provides a broadly acceptable response to some intractable problems.

Like control orders, which they are very similar to, TPIMs sit right at the bleeding edge of civil liberties law, raising serious questions relating to the right to liberty, freedom of information and punishment without charge (see Control orders: what are they and why do they matter?). Despite this, Anderson maintains, something resembling a fair system has emerged:

Thanks to the efforts that were put into designing the closed material procedure, and the resourcefulness of the lawyers and judges who have operated it over the years (including, crucially, the European Court of Human Rights), something resembling a fair litigation procedure has emerged.

However, vigilance is still necessary:

Special advocates however continue to have concerns about the fairness of proceedings, and the representatives of TPIM subjects point with justification to the lengthy periods that can elapse before determinations of the Home Secretary can be tested.

The report is very interesting, and I recommend at least reading the clear and concise introduction. You can download the full report here or learn more about the Independent Review’s statutory role here.

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