A Counter-Terrorism Bill that undermines our principles plays straight into terrorists' hands

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 02 December 2014

Today MPs will debate the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in the House of Commons.

Our second reading briefing on the Bill concludes: 

“When the Coalition first came to power it bound itself together with the language of civil liberties. With this Bill the Government abrogates its fledgling commitment to ensure we do not abandon our values in the fight against terror.

“In confronting an ugly ideology that promotes arbitrary violence, the subjugation of women and tyranny, we would expect political leaders to robustly and actively promote democratic values such as the rule of law, human rights and equal treatment. Instead, the Bill plays into the hands of terrorists by allowing them to shape our laws in a way that undermines our principles. 

“Exclusion orders, flight bans and passport seizures will do nothing to neutralise an organised terror threat which does not respect international borders. Ad-hoc police powers and ever more restrictive systems of civil orders will only deflect attention from arrests and prosecutions. Embroiling our teachers in terror-policing will alienate and marginalise, whilst more powers to monitor the nation’s online communication turn us into a nation of suspects. 

“The Agencies by their nature will always ask for more powers, concerned as they are with a short term preventative agenda, not well-suited to the vital longer term goal of preventing radicalisation and prosecuting and convicting terrorists. It is the job of Government and Parliamentarians, charged with the long-term protection of national security, to interrogate their approach and tightly circumscribe the powers available. 

“The ISC has offered multiple suggestions for reform of the agencies which are ignored in this Bill, as are measures aimed at facilitating prosecutions through the extension of police bail and the removal of the bar on intercept in criminal proceedings. “

It is the crucial task of Government, security and law enforcement agencies to protect life through targeted, effective surveillance, criminal investigations and prosecution. Sadly, this Bill ignores reforms that could improve the effectiveness of investigations and continues the discredited trend of unnecessary and unjust blank cheque powers that have the potential to undermine long term security.

Last week the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) published a report into the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, containing a detailed criticism of the Agencies’ strategy.

We urge parliamentarians to critique the proposals in this Bill in light of this devastating catalogue of failings – some of which would be further encouraged by these counter-productive measures.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson

Policy and Advocacy Manager