‘Police state’ fears over new UK anti-terror powers


Human rights organizations have attacked proposals by the British government to extend “anti-terror” powers in the U.K., with the head of one saying they risked turning the country into a “police state”.

The criticism came on Friday after Prime Minister David Cameron disclosed that British fighters travelling abroad to take part in the conflict in Syria and Iraq could be prevented from returning to the U.K. under a new Counter Terrorism Bill.

Under new “exclusion orders” announced by Cameron, suspected fighters would be barred from returning to Britain unless they agreed to be placed under strict controls and any breaches of the orders, which could last up to two years and be renewed, could result in the suspect going to prison. 

Rights groups criticized the new proposals as being unjust and warned they were pushing Britain into becoming a “police state”.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of UK-based human rights organisation Liberty, said: “Dumping suspect citizens like toxic waste and abdicating your responsibilities to the international community is a very strange way of promoting the Rule of Law.” 

“Summary powers to ‘stop and seize’ passports at airports will prove just as divisive and counterproductive as the infamous stop-and-search powers that preceded them,” he said.

‘Speeches and soundbites’

She added, “When will our governments learn that there are no short cuts to our security? It needs to be built on intelligence, evidence and justice not speeches, soundbites and ever-more new laws.”

The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, or IHRC, said that, if passed, the new laws would “further discriminate” against Muslims.

IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “The helter-skelter descent into a police state governed by political will framed as law continues unabated under this administration. The new proposals further push Muslims out of the protection of the legal safeguards that supposedly apply equally to all.”

Read the full article published on 15 November 2014 on World Bulletin