Theresa May’s counter-productive counter-terrorism bill

These measures will not stop the UK from being in danger of further terrorist activity and may well do the opposite.

Theresa May ncr

These measures will not stop the UK from being in danger of further terrorist activity and may well do the opposite

For a bill that aims to provide a strategy to successfully combat the growing threat of terrorism in Britain, the government’s new Counter-terrorism and Security Bill does not inspire much confidence.

Currently awaiting its third reading, home secretary Theresa May’s legislative proposals include provisions for ‘temporary’ exclusion orders against British citizens suspected of terrorist activities, as well as a crackdown on campus extremism.

Reading as much like a campaign bid for the Tory leadership as an actual plan to stop terrorism, the proposals may serve a useful political purpose but they do not offer a sustainable counter-terrorism strategy.

The exclusion orders are a major cause for concern. They are tantamount to sentencing individuals to exile as they risk rendering them permanently stateless.

The repercussions for Britain are not insignificant – legally, the UK risks falling foul of international law, likely ending up in years-long and expensive court battles. At the very least, it shifts judicial responsibility for confirmed terrorists following their exclusion to other states, making it harder to bring those individuals to trial later.

Secondly and more immediately, exclusion orders are ineffective. They could do more to radicalise the individuals they have made stateless against a country they increasingly perceive to be the antithesis of their identity and values. It takes away an opportunity for people to be reintegrated into their local communities and British society once they return, making rehabilitation an even more difficult task.

The ripple effect of exclusion orders is also clear. The legislation is designed to reduce the potential radicalisation by ISIS of British citizens. Those most at risk of radicalisation are in the Muslim community, and it stands that these orders will affect those individuals most. Their communities, like most immigrant communities, are at once tightly knit and far-reaching.

We are alienating entire swathes of Britain’s population when we legally and physically exclude the individuals that form part of those communities.

Trends in political rhetoric can isolate British Muslims psychologically. Exclusion orders simply exacerbate the underlying issues, risk widening divides in the British population, and consequently undermine counter-terrorism efforts.

Similarly, May’s ban on campus extremism takes away a channel of communication between those at risk of being radicalised and the state. It seems like the start of what is perhaps the mainstreaming of censorship of free speech.

As an element of a counter-terrorism strategy it also fails to deliver in many ways. The definition of an extremist speaker is not a black-and-white judgment and the sheer number of organisations the proposal targets leaves even more room for interpretation. This alone reduces the efficiency of such a proposal.

More importantly, by not providing a platform for such discussions we risk driving them underground, leaving a greater gap between at-risk individuals and the alternative.

If we are trying to understand why young men and women are tempted to join ISIS and fight abroad, banning discussion simply takes away that opportunity. We are left unable to develop mechanisms to combat this and preventing radicalisation becomes increasingly difficult.

This final push to secure a Conservative win before the general election risks – just like their pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act and undermine the European Convention on Human Rights – watering down human rights at little reward. These measures will not stop the UK from being in danger of further terrorist activity and may well do the opposite.

Stephanie Richani is a campaigns volunteer with the Labour Campaign for Human Rights. Follow her on Twitter

2 Responses to “Theresa May’s counter-productive counter-terrorism bill”

  1. Just Visiting

    The proposed measures do indeed need to be examined very carefully, and the pros and cons measured.

    Sadly, this article is not that balanced analysis, just a one-side monologue.

    > The exclusion orders are a major cause for concern. They are tantamount
    to sentencing individuals to exile as they risk rendering them
    permanently stateless.

    A fair point.

    > …the UK risks falling foul of international law,

    Could well be: though it would have been much more useful for you to have expanded on this risk: done the research to tell us what any other countries do in this regardor similar: and what international law push back they had. Off the top of my head I know Australia;s policy of shipping illegal immigrants off shore has bee criticised: but has it resulted in any international law cases?

    It;s your article, would have been nice for you to have researched this.

    > Secondly and more immediately, exclusion orders are ineffective.

    That’s a bold statement.

    > They
    could do more to radicalise …

    Oh, so you’ve softened you certainty, down to a ‘could’ now…

    > the individuals they have made stateless
    against a country they increasingly perceive to be the antithesis of
    their identity and values. It takes away an opportunity for people to be
    reintegrated into their local communities and British society once they
    return, making rehabilitation an even more difficult task.

    It does take away that opportunity for rehab: but again, you could have done some research: eg what % of the Guantanamo Bay Saudi nationals who were released under the promise of rehab and etc by Saudi: actually ended up as terrorists again?

    What percentage of those in Israel prisons for terrorism offences who were released in a prisoner swap with Gaza: what % of those went back to terrorism offences.

    Maybe you could have dug deeper and found some stats on the UK, on citizens returning from earlier conflicts than Syria (eg Bosnia ?).

    And a balanced report: would have talked about the risks of allowing extremists back to the UK who then could possibly influence more UK residents they meet towards extremism too.

    Letting them all back is not risk free: shame you didn’t explore that side of the debate at all.

    > The definition of an extremist speaker is not a black-and-white judgment
    and the sheer number of organisations the proposal targets leaves even
    more room for interpretation.

    It’s funny, British law is like that: you can be done for ‘driving without due care and attention’: look how imprecise those words could be: but I’ve not heard anyone campaigning to drop that law.

    Or the more recent ‘incite of hatred’ laws: they are pretty wordy and grey too.

    The laws get interpreted by judges in this country, silly laws tend to get watered down in that process!

    Though not always: sometimes people go to prison merely for burning a single book, and doing it in a way to ’cause maximum publicity’.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-13119241
    Did you campaign about that person not being allowed a platform: someone with no violent track record overseas?

    No?
    So maybe you’re next concern about platforms, is rather one sided?

    > by not providing a platform for such discussions we risk driving them
    underground, leaving a greater gap between at-risk individuals and the
    alternative.

    You are out of step with some folk on LFF: who have argued here that certain cases should not get a platform.
    Look back on LFF to ‘Free speech is a right, but a platform is not’.

    The poster there argued that:
    > The right to say whatever you want, within the law, does not mean that any organisation must give you space to say it.

    It might have been interesting to hear you bring in their views on this: and whether they felt that they supported your case or not.

    Overall – a content-free article.

    Before next putting pen to paper: you might like to browse some of the new blogs that take political journalists and writers to task for writing evidence free: eg the Monkeycage.org archives, or its newer stuff now at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/

    It may give all us readers more value if you invested a little more in your writing?

  2. slag

    fuck the old hag i do what i want and protect the rights of every nut sack in this country

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