Analysing the Impact of the Counter-Terror Bill

PREVENTShapingIdeas

If one were to draw a comparison between the freedoms which were being slaughtered in the pen of Parliament vis-à-vis counter terror legislation, and the response from the people and the media to this, a serious indifference would be perceived.  There has been more outrage about the restrictions on the type of porn being produced in the UK than the restriction of civil liberties due to the proposed bill. All three major political parties are in effect in agreement for the need to go ahead with such a legislation.  The debate is not whether the Bill is grossly disproportionate to threat at hand, or whether established, unshakeable principles such as rule of law and non-derogable rights are being systematically stripped to be replaced with meekly fettered “powers” which build on the already abused “powers”. No. The debate is whether the “measures” are “strong” enough, and why the restrictions on the right of freedom of conscious and belief, a jus cogens norm of international law, are not more intrusive.

In this piece, the principles and human rights which are being, not eroded, but decimated due to the Bill will be highlighted.  In terms of the provisions which place the controversial PREVENT strategy on statutory footing, I have elucidated on the impact this has had thus far on the Muslim minority in the following articles:

PREVENT and the Abuse of Women

PREVENT and the Public Surveillance State

PREVENT and the underlying erroneous “conveyor-belt theory”

PREVENT and the discussion of “extremism” and discrimination

The only additional point is that when children are assessed for signs of “radicalisation”, parents or guardians will not be allowed to be present during the assessment before the Channel panel. In other words, legal safeguards in the form of solicitors or appropriate adults do not exist to protect the child from misuse of powers, or more likely, a misapplication of what constitutes “extremism” and “radicalisation”.

The underlying motivation for the Bill points to the raising of the terrorist threat level[1] and Syrian conflict.

The rise of far-right throughout Europe and the associated terrorism, the Zionists traveling to join an army which engages in war crimes (an ideology which manifests in violent form in the UK), and the radicalisation processes associated with both these groups are not an equal concern. Indeed this discriminatory handling came to its most acute when David Cameron said to an MP who raised the issue of British Jewish Zionists joining a terrorist army, that he would “regret” such a suggestion. This blind discrimination has led to mercenaries and non-Muslim fighters joining Kurds linked to the proscribed PKK not being condemned with equal force, sentenced under terror law and smeared in the media.

Muslims as Second Class Citizens

Part 1 would introduce two new powers to place temporary restrictions on travel and new Temporary Exclusion Orders.

Included in these proposals is the power to seize travel documents for up to 14 days, on the mere basis of a “suspicion”. This power can be applied to children as well. The crux issue (which is a recurring theme of the proposals) is that freedom of movement is being restricted on the basis of “suspicion” of Terrorism-related activity.  This “related” activity however, has consistently been applied to Muslims in a discriminatory fashion which only serves to further alienate a community and potentially breed the motives the government claims to want to quash.

Michael Piggin created and tested bombs, was found with a stockpile of weapons, a banned book had a fascination with mass-murderers like Anders Breivik and an ideological hatred of Muslims, and had planned a “columbine-style massacre”. He was not sentenced under the anti-terror legislation. Ryan McGee (a serving British soldier), had a clear ideological motive: he was caught with a room full of weapons and even a homemade nail bomb along with walls plastered with supremacist Hitler-lauding motifs.   The legal gymnastics afforded to McGee to render him not a terrorist have not been applied to Muslims. The example of two brothers from Birmingham being handed a twelve year prison sentence is a case in point. These two individuals, amateur in their understanding of Islam joined the Free Syrian Army, a secularist outfit which would have been armed by the British government had the motion allowing this passed last year. They were the “moderate” option. No doubt tricked by the PREVENT strategy which has abused women by turning them into proxies to effect familial surveillance, the mother of these two brothers, went to the police being assured that she was doing the “right thing”. On their return, the men, who were collecting dead bodies and putting them in ambulances for the Free Syrian Army, were now the enemy of the state. As the mother grieving the sentence highlighted, they did not pose a threat, nor did they engage in creating bombs. Branded terrorists and serving unjust sentences, they highlight the dual legal systems in existence today. In the case of Runa Khan, a five year sentence was handed down for posting on Facebook her desire for her children to one day grow up and fight Jihad,[2] with pictures of her children with toy weapons, and disclosing a route to get into Syria. She did not believe in or call for the killing of innocent civilians. The aforementioned Ryan McGee in comparison received two years. The sentencing of Pavlo Lapshyn compared to Michael Adebolajo, considering the scale and intentions of the two, is further evidence of an increasingly discriminatory judiciary which has buckled under the right-wing/neocon pressure. The existing broad definitions have thus been used as political tools, where judgements are based on the hype of the Daily Fail and blusters of neocon officials capitalising on the emotions of the public rather than objective analysis. In the words of Helena Kennedy QC,

“It is also important to recognise that our judiciary is currently on the back foot. It is not only the European court of human rights that is being attacked by the tabloids and Tea Party tendency; many of our own judges have been at the receiving end of vitriol for being too committed to human rights.”

An Islamic Human Rights Commission report found that people who identified as Pakistani were 154 times more likely to be detained than those identifying as white. With Muslims already heavily profiled and harassed at airports when detained under Schedule 7, the discriminatory treatment will no doubt only worsen with these new powers. Hawkish politics are already driving broad outcomes of the legislation. Theresa May stated in Parliament that,

“That is part of the process of trying to disrupt people from travelling to Syria and Iraq or from being active with terrorist groups.”

The impact will be primarily on the suspect community of Muslims which wish to engage in humanitarian aid work, as the “disruption” of people travelling to Syria will happen regardless of engagement of terror-related activity.  Given harassment already meted out to Muslim charities, it seems these provision will be used as a political tool to further enhancing discriminatory treatment and make conditions for Muslims difficult, to paraphrase neocon Douglas Murray.

Temporary Exclusion Orders

TEOs will allow the Home Secretary to exclude individuals for two years on “reasonable suspicion” of terrorist-related activity.  Orders can be retroactively applied, meaning the law can be invoked to sanction acts which may have been conducted prior to the introduction of the law.  Not only is it a violation of rule of law in that a person is being punished for no crime as adjudged by a competent court, it may violate Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights which requires that laws are not enforced retroactively, and in potentially splitting of families, right to family life (Article 8).

Given Theresa May’s history, where British nationals have been stripped of their nationalities only to then by bombed to pieces by a US drone strike, the future of this measure looks dark. Another problem is of administration; legislative leeway increases the chances of abuse of power, by those in power. Theresa May’s own extremism means that if she wants to strip someone of their citizenship, she will do so even if it contravenes advice from the security service.

These measures have effectively created a second-class of citizenship where Muslims are profiled coming in and out of the country, restricting freedom of movement on the basis of suspicion. The duality persists with Muslims no longer able go out and fight for humanitarian causes, whilst Zionist Britons may leave to commit war crimes with impunity.

TPIMS

Part 2 would amend the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, to introduce relocation into the TPIM system and a tighter test on their use.

TPIMs were introduced because the House of Lords slammed the detentions without trial at Belmarsh prison. Instead of resolving the issue by ensuring people are appropriately charged and then brought before an open court of law, the government decided to bring in control orders, which were superseded by TPIMs after heavy criticism. In essence, TPIMs can amount to a “house arrest” of a “suspect” who has not committed a crime and who cannot challenge the evidence used against him. The time and place of movement, and even the associations one maintains are determined by the Home Office.

Condemned by rights organisations like Liberty and Amnesty, TPIM is a measure which (again) threatens the rule of law as well as the human rights of British citizens.

Data Retention and Mail Interception

Part 3 would amend the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 to enable the Secretary of State to require internet providers to retain data allowing the authorities to identify the person or device using a particular IP address at any given time. The potential for abuse, based on previous precedent, is great.

Fundamentally, these powers will violate the right to privacy. Such a measure was struck down by the European Court of Justice ruling which declared a European Union Directive requiring the retention of data by telecoms firms as “invalid” and disproportionate, taking into account security concerns.

Other provisions, rather disturbingly, will remove the requirement of warrant for the interception of all post sent from and received in the UK.

Concluding Remarks

The reality is that the threat of terrorism can be dealt without the need to erode civil liberties through enacting the Bill. If anything, the case of Ryan McGee, who was not sentenced under the terror legislation for creating explosives demonstrates that people with such inclinations can be dealt with by law. Rule of law and justice dictates that suspects be tried and sentenced if necessary. TPIMs and exclusion orders, combined with broad and arbitrary definitions which results in the counter terror legislation being applied to the dictates of prevailing (neocon) politics, means that such principles are comprehensively shattered. Human rights have always been a problem for neocons to push such policies based on their erroneous narrative which has unfortunately become the prevailing one, hence the need to do away with them. I end with the Machiavellian position of neocons on “principles” like the rule of law, which contextualises for the people of Britain a chilling reality of what is happening. Carnes Lord writes,

“The soundness of Machiavelli’s analysis of foundings ultimately rests on his depreciation of the rule of law. The asserted priority of arms over laws… reflects the need for a single will to command in times of revolutionary upheaval. But more than that, it reflects the inadequacy of laws and the need for princes – or the equivalent of princes – in all states at all times.”[3]

I’ll let the readers ponder the implications of such a “persuasion”. The Muslim minority is already experiencing it.


References:

[1] It is worth noting that the threat level was increased despite there being no intelligence to suggest there is an imminent attack. See https://coolnessofhind.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/the-ideology-threatening-britain-is-neoconservatism-mr-cameron/

[2] Will the mothers of Jews who have travelled to fight in the terrorist IDF and perpetrated war crimes, be arrested and sentenced for supporting terrorism, for setting up a support group called Mahal Mums? They too have a Facebook page, have published a list of equipment needed by military personnel and have led a propaganda campaign defending the war crimes of the Zionist state. See: http://aohr.org.uk/index.php/en/all-releases-2/1713-british-mothers-launch-campaign-to-support-sons-serving-in-the-israeli-occupation-army.html

[3] Carnes, L. The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Virginia US, 2003, p.67

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Analysing the Impact of the Counter-Terror Bill

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s