British Anti-Terrorism: A Modern day Witchhunt by Fahad Ansari To read the full 102 page report, download it in PDF format.
The following are the recommedations from this report (with cross referencing to the actual report.)
- Anti-terror legislation must be drafted more precisely and definitively so as to minimize the threat of innocent people being arbitrarily punished.
- The laws must be implemented in an indiscriminate manner and not single out any specific community for collective victimization.
- The existing legislation should be repealed and terror suspects prosecuted under pre-existing criminal legislation through the normal criminal justice system. The government should define a set of offences which are characteristic of terrorism and for which it should be possible to prosecute without relying on sensitive material, but that it raise the potential penalty where links with terrorism are established.
- All suspects must be brought before a judge and jury and be given the opportunity to challenge the evidence against them in a court of law in accordance with due process. (p.30-31)
- Any punitive sanctions, such as internment or control orders, against individuals who have not had the opportunity to clear their name are wholly abhorrent and morally repugnant to the values of justice and equality. (p.28-39)
- Evidence obtained from torture must not be admissible in court or otherwise used in building a case against an individual. Such evidence is unreliable and immoral. It must not be used even where torture was not procured by the British government. (p.32-33)
- Similar to the recommendation made by Lord MacPherson in the Lawrence Enquiry, Islamophobia must be recognized and acknowledged as existent from the victim’s subjective perspective until such time as evidence is shown that it is not the case. (p.45)
- Police officers must be held to account for their actions and behaviour. With such wide and unfettered powers under the anti-terror laws, there needs to be an adequate system of checks and balances put in place such as a police complaints system that has the necessary funding, man power, sufficient investigative powers and the will and commitment to credibly hold the police to account. The current system involving the Independent Police Complaints Commission is ineffective and frustrating. (p.65)
- The government must invest in third party independent groups who can help victims with their complaints and monitor the way anti terror powers are being used.
- Policing must be based upon the principles of justice and protection and not to promote a higher political agenda. (p.49)
- Faith-based recording of stop and search and arrest must be carried out in order to ascertain the true level of institutional Islamophobia. (p.49-51)
- Racial and religious profiling is ineffective and counter-productive and will only lead to further alienation and marginalization of the victimized community. (p.83-87)
- The policy of ‘shoot to kill’ must be suspended with immediate effect and proper debate in public and by members of parliament should take place. (p.54-55)
- Released suspects must be issued with a full public apology by the police so as to help remove the stigma of arrest from them. (p.77-79)
- Muslim charities must not be arbitrarily closed or subjected to stricter surveillance than other charities. If charities are restricted only to be later cleared, a full public apology must be issued with the offer of compensation. (p.52-53)
- British Muslims abroad must be treated with the same care and concern as other British citizens in similar situations. The current dual track system causes widespread alienation and disillusionment with a government which is supposed to protect its citizens. (p.66-69)
- Terror threats must not fluctuate based on the occurrence of religious festivals. Religious festivals are not and must not be associated with terrorism. (p.59-60)
- Muslim solicitors must not be impeded from carrying out their duties towards their clients. Their mistreatment is nothing more than an obstruction of justice. (p59; 78)
- An independent inquiry must be carried out into HMP Belmarsh, its conditions of detention and specifically, its treatment of Muslim inmates and visitors. (p.61-64)
- Members of the government must refrain on commenting on individual cases in which the guilt of the accused has not been proven in court. Such statements constitute contempt of court and must be treated as such. (p.80)
- Members of the government must refrain from making attacks on the judiciary; such attacks lead to a decline in public confidence in the system of justice. (p.80)
The Terrorism Bill 2005
- The right of people anywhere in the world to resist invasion and occupation is both legitimate and moral and within the framework of international law. Therefore the proposal to criminalise the “glorification” of such self defence appears to be intended to stifle discussion about, and support for, such resistance. (p.12-14)
- The creation of an offence of “encouragement of terrorism” is unnecessary as the requisite elements of the offence are already covered by existing legislation relating to incitement, which have been used, albeit selectively but where used effectively in the past.
- The creation of “dissemination of terrorist publications” will constitute a huge impediment to freedom of speech, thought and expression. Not only will it become religious censorship but it will stifle academic thought on campus and introduce a level of censorship more at home in the former Soviet Union than in the UK. (p.15)
- The offences of “acts preparatory to terrorism” and “training for terrorism” are already adequately covered by the Terrorism Act 2000. As with “dissemination of terrorist publications”, this offence is drafted very broadly so as to potentially put university lecturers and librarians at risk of prosecution. (p.14-15)
- The proposal to detain individuals for three months without charge is an affront to due process and must not be introduced. No other country in Europe empowers itself to detain terror suspects for even 14 days, the current limit under British law. Similar to internment in Northern Ireland, this may become the greatest recruitment sergeant for those who wish to harm Britain. (p.15-16)
- The dangers associated with allowing evidence obtained from intelligence intercepts are grave. There is the serious possibility of a wholesale invasion of people’s privacy. It is absolutely imperative that the evidence used be made available to the defendant to challenge its validity. (p16)
- The government must refrain from using the term “extremism” in its discourse on terrorism. The term has no tangible legal meaning or definition and is thus unhelpful and emotive. (p.20)
- To equate “extremism” with the aspirations of Muslims for Shariah laws in the Muslim world or the desire to see unification towards a Caliphate in the Muslim lands, as seemed to be misrepresented by the Prime Minister, is inaccurate and disingenuous. It indicates ignorance of what the Shariah is and what a Caliphate is and will alienate and victimise the Muslim community as a whole. (p.21)
- To denounce anybody who questions the legitimacy of the State of Israel will be seen as an attempt to silence academic thought and legitimate political expression. If the government hopes to pander to Zionist pressure by condemning and excluding from this country people who are critical of Israeli apartheid, it is in fact supporting apartheid. (p.20)
- The proposal to ban the non-violent organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir is unwarranted, unjust and unwise, and runs counter to all the principles which Western democracies are currently trying to promote abroad. Any disagreement with a political organisation must be expressed through debate not censorship and proscription. If it is suggested that any laws have been broken by any individuals or groups then this must be proven by due legal process. Criminalising the mere possession of certain opinions is the hallmark of dictatorships. (p.21-22)
- The same reasoning applies to the proposal to close mosques if they are arbitrarily defined as being ‘extremist’ or to try and politically influence what may or may not be said during a religious talk. This would amount to collective punishment of the community and will be likely to create fear and prevent legitimate political discussion within mosques. This repression could lead to the very radical sub-culture which we all seek to prevent. To extend this to faith schools and meeting rooms is abhorrent and fuels further the aforesaid process. (p.22-23)
- Compulsory ID cards would not have prevented the London bombings and will not prevent any future terrorist attack. As such, they are a waste of tax-payers money and only serve to violate further the right to privacy. (p.23)
- The proposal to deport and/or extradite foreign nationals to countries known for gross human rights abuses is abhorrent to a civilized nation, irrelevant of whether or not a diplomatic assurance that deportees will not be mistreated is obtained. This recent move comes across as a cynical attempt to resolve the problem of dealing with those currently under “control orders” after the judiciary found their continued detention without trial to be unlawful. Given that the alleged bombers on 7 July in London were British nationals; such an exploitation of the events to move against foreign nationals as well as unwanted asylum seekers is indeed shameful. (p.40)
- Extradition without trial is abhorrent to the system of due process and should never take place, particularly where the country requesting extradition is known for its human rights abuses. (p53-54)
- Initiatives such as CampusWatch which aim to have students spy on one another will lead to mistrust and religious segregation on campus, and must therefore be discontinued. (p.69-73)
- The remit of the Commission for Racial Equality is not wide enough to effectively tackle the problem of religious discrimination. The issues involved in religious discrimination are very different from racial discrimination. Consequently, a separate body needs to be created for this purpose with the relevant experts in the area and the necessary resources to create religious equality. (p.82-83)
- In order to protect the rights of Muslims in Britain, religious discrimination must be outlawed. Anything less creates the impression that Muslims are not full citizens entitled to protection in Britain. (p.82-83)
- The proposal to create an offence of incitement to religious hatred must be wholeheartedly opposed. Due to the depth of institutional Islamophobia in Britain, there is a real chance that rather than protect the Muslim community, such legislation will be used disproportionately against it, similar to how the incitement to racial hatred was used disproportionately against the Black community.
- Attempts to equate Muslims with Nazis are incitement to hatred and violence. Journalists and politicians who incite hatred against Muslims must be investigated by the Commission for Racial Equality as well as the police. (p.76-77)
- Terror suspects should not be tried by media. The Contempt of Court Act 1981 must be used to prevent news reports which are likely to prejudice the right to a fair trial and to punish those who breach it. (p.77-80)
- Solicitors, barristers, NGOs and campaign movements and individuals protesting these measures, or defending those affected by these laws must not be bullied by the media to stop their activities with impunity.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183