Amnesty International has called for the abolition of the Prevent strategy, accusing it of severe human rights abuses and of encouraging a culture of “thought policing”.
Their report released today entitled This is the Thought Police, found that Prevent was “fundamentally incompatible” with international human rights obligations.
The report stated: “The breadth of discretion permitted in Prevent decision-making has resulted in a significant risk of discrimination. Islamophobic stereotypes associating Muslims with extremism or terrorism have played a major role in referrals to Prevent. A disproportionate number of neurodiverse people and children also feature in Prevent referrals.”
“Amnesty International spoke to people who were referred to Prevent largely because they expressed non-violent political beliefs, including one person whose employer referred them to Prevent for their left-wing social media posts.
“People were often not told why they had been referred to Prevent, or what the outcome of their referral was. Such secrecy and lack of clarity is difficult to justify in what purports to be a voluntary pre-crime programme.”
Amnesty said that 87% of Prevent referrals do not “meet the criteria for intervention”, suggesting too many people are caught up in the programme, with one in three referrals being for children under 15.
One senior teacher admitted to researchers that if in doubt, they would refer a child to Prevent, to avoid getting in trouble.
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, said: “The dragnet approach inevitably sweeps up innocent people and can destroy their lives and futures.”
Read more on The Guardian.
- UN Rapporteur on the “Chilling Effect” of Prevent (News, 2023)
- The People’s Review of Prevent (Report, 2022)
- A Response to the Shawcross Review (Report, 2023)