UPDATE ON UK ANTI TERROR LAWS #3

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The Criminal Justice (Conspiracy & Terrorism) Bill has become law. The laws will include wide-ranging powers to stop support and association with groups deemed to be 'inflicting terror' abroad. URGENT ALERT

ISLAMIC HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
PO Box 598, Wembley, London, UK, HA0 4XX

4 September, 1998

For immediate release

UPDATE ON UK ANTI TERROR LAWS #3
ANTI-MUSLIM BILL BECOMES LAW

The Criminal Justice (Conspiracy & Terrorism) Bill has become law. The laws will include wide-ranging powers to stop support and association with groups deemed to be 'inflicting terror' abroad. The Islamic Human Rights Commission is deeply disturbed by this development.

Both Members of Parliament and Lords approved the Bill, after two days of emergency debates. A number of MPs abstained, or tried to block the Bill from becoming law. As the situation now stands, any number of scenarios which we have mentioned below could actually happen.

We are urging campaigners to continue protesting about these laws. Please help campaign against the Criminal Justice (Conspiracy & Terrorism) ACT. The Act is renewable annually. IHRC intends to monitor the use of law, and if necessary take cases to Europe, and challenge the law. IHRC also will be liasing with other groups to raise awareness of the nature of the laws. International pressure from non-UK campaigners in particular we hope will help the protest against these measures.

The reasons submitted for our concerns are in the previous alert and ARE ADDED BELOW.

Please write to the following expressing your concern at the Act's lack of respect for basic human rights to:

Tony Blair, Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA
UK

Fax: (+44) 171 925 0918
Tel: (+44) 171 270 3000
E-MAIL:labour-party@geo2.poptel.org.uk they will forward the message to Tony Blair



Jack Straw, Home Secretary, Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London
SW1H 9AT

Fax: (+44) 171 273 2190
Tel: (+44) 171 273 4000
e-mail: gen.ho@gtnet.gov.uk


William Hague, Leader of the Opposition
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
UK

http://www.conservative.org.uk/email/index.html this is a form which you can submit to him or other party figures.


Mrs. Mary Robinson, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva
Switzerland

Fax: (+4122) 9170092
e-mail: webadmin.hchr@unog.ch

Ann Clwyd MP, Chairperson Parliamentary Human Rights Group
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
UK

e-mail: PHRG@HRG>DEMON.CO.UK

Amnesty International
e-mail: amnestyis@amnesty.org

Please let us know of your responses
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Alert of 1 September 1998


BLAIR SILENCES GENUINE DISSIDENTS

Firstly, the definition of 'terrorism' is too wide to be used fairly. Currently banned organisation can fall into this category. This could effect e.g. the Algerian groups campaigning for justice in their homeland, who are based in the UK, as they are currently considered to be 'terrorist' by the Algerian regime.

Secondly, issues such as verbal support and association with groups who are deemed to be associating with banned groups, can also be an offence. Basically anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim carrying out some form of political activity could be targeted by various means of associating them with 'banned' groups.

Thirdly, the rules of evidence seem to be much lower, allowing conviction upon the word of one senior police officer. If a suspect remains silent (a constitutional right in the UK) this will be deemed as a sign of guilt.

Islamophobia in the UK is on the rise. Over a year ago we saw the temporary closure of a charity collecting aid for Palestinian children, without the type of laws proposed. IHRC fears that the Muslim community could be criminalised by this act, even though no crime has been committed.

The text of the IHRC Press Release on this matter is listed below. Please contact us with your ideas, responses or for more information.

PRESS RELEASE

30 AUGUST 1998

The attempted introduction of so-called anti-terror legislation by the government next week, is being strongly opposed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission. In a letter to all MPs, IHRC outlines, what it sees as the enormous potential for miscarriages of justice and violations of basic human rights.

Urging MPs to oppose the bill, IHRC cites the problems of definition:

"…'conspiracy', 'acts of terror' , need to be clarified, before the moral validity of any such legislation is even discussed…It is indeed an anomaly that the government has resisted the introduction of legislation to combat religious discrimination, because it feels that the terms cannot be adequately defined. Surely this is even more so the case with the present bill.”

Measures which are designed to prosecute anyone supporting, aiding or associating with a banned 'terrorist' organisation, are open to incredible abuse in the service of governments and regimes friendly to the UK. Both France and Algeria are known to have pressurised Britain over the anti-junta activists who have sought asylum in the UK. Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and many other regimes with nationals of banned 'terrorist' organisations in the UK, will be ecstatic at the news of the wide-ranging powers of arrest and prosecution made available in the bill.

The limitation of freedom of speech and association as a result of these measures, are clear violations of the European Convention on Human Rights to be made law in the UK by the Human Rights Bill. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Britain is also a signatory, will also be breached by the bill.

With the demonisation of Muslims ever increasing, IHRC fears that the new laws, if enacted, will only serve to additionally criminalise Muslims (and others), when in fact no crime has been committed.

For more information, please contact the Press Office, on 0181 931 1919, fax 0181 931 1920, mobile 0958 522 196, e-mail: ihrc@dial.pipex.com.
[end]

21.09.98 Since this last alert was sent out IHRC has continued campaigning against the new laws. It has written to Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, asking her to investigate the matter.

IHRC will also be monitoring the new laws. It is setting up a support group for those harassed by the new laws. Further information on this project will be available in a few weeks time. If you would like to help in this project, please contact us on the numbers above.