Wed, 12 Mar 2008
Yet another Counter-Terrorism Bill is currently before Parliament. It
will impose new and worse forms of punishment without trial. Since the
first permanent Terrorism Act of 2000, people have suffered much
injustice under anti-terrorism measures, particularly Muslims and
migrant communities. Out of over 1,200 people arrested under
anti-terrorism laws, less than 5% have been convicted of ‘terrorism’
offences, few of these involving any plans for violent activities. Less
than 20% were even charged with such offences. A key effect and
political aim has been a climate of fear – fear that political
activity, or simply talking to the wrong people, will bring arrest or
Why does the government propose yet another Counter-Terrorism law? What
effects will it have? What can people do to oppose it?
This Friday 2008-03-14, 6.30pm-9.00pm at the London
Muslim Centre, 46 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1JQ,
speakers will look at unjust effects of the current anti-terrorism
measures and how this injustice would be extended by the new proposals.
They will explain and analyse the proposals in the new Bill. There will
be plenty of time for questions and discussion – about what powers to
oppose, how to present the issues to your own community, and what
action to request from your MP.
- Gareth Peirce, Human rights lawyer
- Saghir Hussein, Cage Prisoners
- Azad Ali, Muslim Safety Forum
- Ben Hayes, Statewatch
- Mahan Abedin, Editor of Islamism Digest
- Muhammad Habibur-Rahman, Islamic Forum of Europe
- Les Levidow, CAMPACC
- Victoria Britain, Journalist
- Asad Rehman, Newham Monitoring Project
- Dr. Kamal El-Helbawi, Centre for the Study of Terrorism (panel discussion)
- Chaired by Hugo Charlton, Barrister, CAMPACC
Event organised by the
Campaign against criminalising communities (CAMPACC)
with the Centre for the study of terrorism (CFSOT),
and co-sponsored by the London Muslim Centre,
Islamic Forum of Europe,
and the Newham Monitoring Project.
The Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008: unjust proposals
The government’s new proposals are based on the Terrorism Act 2000,
which defined terrorism so broadly as to include simply the threat of
violence to property in an attempt to influence a government, anywhere
in the world. This broad definition, with offences like
belonging to or helping a banned organisation, criminalises many normal
political activities in the UK and any resistance to oppressive regimes
- Detention without charge would be extended from 28 days to 42 days
- ‘Terrorism suspects’ could be detained without charge for six weeks.
Before 2000 it was 4 days. Neither government nor police have given any
convincing reason for such a long period. The USA manages with 2 days,
Algeria in 12.
- Post-charge questioning of ‘terror suspects’ – presumed guilty?
- ‘Terror suspects’ could be subjected to further questioning after a
criminal charge, even up to the trial date. Saying nothing could count
against them at trial. At present, once charged one can refuse to
answer till their trial, without this being interpreted as a sign of
guilt or deception.
- ‘Terrorist connection’ would justify a heavier sentence
- Judges could give people longer sentences for ‘ordinary’ offences if
they had a ‘terrorism connection’. For example, public order offences
like organising an unauthorised demonstration, if a speaker allegedly
supports a banned ‘terrorist’ organisation.
- Confiscation of property without trial
- Convicted ‘terrorists’ could have their property confiscated – such as
bank accounts, vehicles, computers or even a house. The special
procedure for doing this would not be a normal trial. It could involve
secret evidence which the affected person would not be allowed to know.
Any connections between the property and terrorism would only need to
be shown ‘on the balance of probability’. Charities’ funds could be
confiscated in the same way.
- Extra punishment without trial beyond the original sentence
- Convicted ‘terrorists’ could face a ban on foreign travel once released
from jail. This would be done by a special order, not a trial. Those
convicted could also face a requirement to tell the police where they
go whenever they sleep away from home, in some cases for life.
- New offence for volunteers of not giving information to police
- It is already an offence under the 2001 terrorism law not to tell
police of suspected terrorist activities if you find anything
suspicious in the course of your employment. The 2008 Bill extends this
to volunteer workers, for example in a youth project or charity. People
might be over-suspicious and report imagined activities because they
are afraid of being criminalised for concealment. They also
might be deterred from volunteering in a charity that sends money to
Afghanistan or Palestine, for example.
- New offence of providing information about the armed forces
- The Bill would make it an offence to seek or communicate information
about the armed forces which could be useful to terrorism. This could
apply simply to peace protestors telling each other, for example, what
happens at which gates of a military base.
- Hiding evidence about police killings
- The Bill would allow for the government to hold some inquests in
secret, without juries, if evidence would be heard which they believe
should not be made public in the interest of national security,
international relations or any other public interest. Sensitive
material about how and why a person was killed by the police or army
would be hidden away and they would never be held properly to account.
For more information on the bill and a model letter to send your MP
visit the CAMPACC
Briefing Document Counter Terrorism Bill 2008. Please ask
to oppose these proposals!
Information in this post is from the announcement for this event.