Prevent Watch

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Calls for independent review of Government’s Prevent strategy due to ‘mistrust’

Liberal Democrat Baroness Hamwee warned in the Lords that there was “mistrust” of the Prevent strategy. Lady Hamwee said that keeping it under review internally was not enough and added: “We need to know what is working and what isn’t working.” Her demand in committee stage debate on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill was backed by Green peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb who said there was “mistrust and distrust of Prevent in many places”. Read more

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British Muslims will live with an intolerable burden of uncertainty under new counter-terrorism bill

Imagine a small, rat-infested town. Everyone is complaining about the rats and it dawns on the mayor she might gain some political advantage from dealing with the issue. So, she poisons the town’s water. Lo, all the rats die. But there are side effects: the poisoned water is making people sick. Not everyone, mind you – not those who can afford bottled water. Just those who rely on the town’s water supply. Some strategies can have devastating consequences despite their best intentions. This what is happening with the UK government’s counter-terrorism strategy, and in particular the Prevent duty, which puts an onus on those who work in public institutions such as schools, universities or hospitals to report individuals they suspect may be vulnerable to radicalisation. As the parable of poisoned water suggests, though the UK may package its counter-terrorism strategy for all people, its consequences for British Muslims have been exceedingly disproportionate. Read more

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Counter-terror bill is a threat to press freedom, say campaigners

New counter-terror powers designed to tackle the “vaguely defined” crime of hostile state activity threaten the protection of journalistic sources, campaigners for freedom of expression and the press have warned. In a joint statement, nine organisations including Index on Censorship and Reporters Without Borders have called on the House of Lords to recommend significant amendments to the bill as it reaches the closing stages of its passage through parliament. Read more 

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Proposed terror laws could ‘violate human rights and infringe freedom of speech’, MPs tell government

New terror laws proposed by the government may violate human rights and undermine freedom of speech, MPs have warned. The Joint Committee on Human Rights called for three clauses of the controversial Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill to be deleted and gave a total of 27 amendments. Peers and MPs said the first clause, which would make statements deemed supportive of a banned group illegal, restricted free speech and could criminalise “valid debates” on what organisations should be banned. Read more

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Anti-terrorism bill ‘undermines access to legal advice’

Suspects detained under latest terrorism legislation making its way through parliament could be questioned for an hour unaccompanied by a solicitor, the Law Society has warned. Even then, the onus is on the detainee to request a solicitor and consultations would not be private, Chancery Lane added. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords next month. Chancery Lane has flagged up multiple concerns that appear to undermine suspects’ rights to legal advice. Read more

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UN special rapporteur expresses serious concerns on UK’s counter-terrorism bill

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin has expressed serious concerns about the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill that is currently being considered by parliament. In her submission Professor Ni Aoláin states that the bill risks criminalising a broad range of legitimate behaviour, including reporting by journalists. She highlights the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression and finds that parts of the bill fail to meet the UK’s obligations under international human rights law. Read more

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New government terror laws that could jail people for ‘reckless’ statements could violate human rights, say MPs

Proposed laws that would see people jailed for viewing terroristmaterial three times or making “reckless” statements about extremist groups may violate human rights, MPs and peers have warned. The government’s new Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill “strikes the wrong balance between security and liberty”, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said. Read more